After some select Asian countries, China, India, and Pakistan achieved nuclear capability, its impact on regional strategy was obvious. Even repercussions of the neo-proliferation possibility had its impact on regional strategy in the Asian continent. Its reverberations were also noticeable in the Western world. As long as the nuclear monopoly rested with the UK, Russia, and France on the European continent, and with the US as the team leader, the talk of real nuclear threat to the world remained much subdued.
In the Asian continent, Pakistan was the latest to go nuclear. Hindsight shows that only subdued and ephemeral resentment was expressed by the US and her European nuclear allies on Pakistan going nuclear. These powers knew that besides clandestine acquisition of nuclear technology, China had an important role in helping Pakistan go nuclear. This suited the Western powers because in this strategy they saw fair chance of balancing the rising India. The question is why did the then Bush administration give gargantuan hype to the reports of Saddam making a nuclear bomb? Later events showed that this was a concocted story falsified by events unfolding in the aftermath of Saddam’s removal and execution.
The truth is that while alive, Saddam had profiled his self as the enemy number one of the Jews and the State of Israel. His obsession with Israel’s hatred emanated from the same source from which Iran’s animus against Israel arises. Both countries want to win the race over all Arab states, the Saudi in particular, in despising, denigrating and hating Israel so that they would take the credit of being the foremost among Islamic countries to have translated Quranic injunctions into practice.
This unbecoming trait embedded in the mindset of the Iranian Ecclesiasts is reminiscent of the peril Saddam invited for himself and his nation. The triangular acrimony destroyed Iraq, and now, in an eyeball to eyeball stance, looks straight at Tehran. Therefore, Teheran has to concede that Israel is a reality, right or wrong, and cannot be undone by the hysterics of the Ayatollahs. Teheran is our friend and nobody speaks bitter words to a friend. However, the Farsi saying goes that the truth is bitter but its outcome is sweet.
Teheran has nothing tangible to justify its idiosyncratic hatred against Israel. The borders of the two countries are not contiguous; they are not caught up in a game of trade rivalry; they do not aspire for the supremacy and domination of the region and they have no necessity to compel them to be at loggerheads. Why then does Iran take the risk of satisfying its ego vis-à-vis the Arab countries who will never acknowledge Iran’s status as a supervening power in the Middle East? Teheran needs to make some introspection about for what has she raised the fanatical armed legions and deployed them in sensitive areas of the Middle East.
The Jewish people control the US Congress and no President of the US can underestimate the power of the Congress. As long as the Jewish lobby holds the fort in the US Congress, Iran should expect no concession from the US. Teheran should think coolly about the meaning of President Trump’s words that he will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power.
The benefits of eschewing hatred against Israel are numerous for Iran and the world at large. Oil is the mainstay of Iran’s economy. Given the highly skillful, enterprising, active and patriotic population with a fair majority of youth among them, Iran has a bright future for progress and prosperity. It is shortsightedness to think of cowing down Israel through muscle power including the dirty bomb if Tehran succeeds to manufacture it. If Teheran can wriggle out of this triangular jinx, she has a bright prospect of becoming the leader of the Middle East. Moreover, Iran will not be able to gain anything by trying to create an ethnic wedge between the Semitic and non-Semitic Muslims in the Middle East. That will array the Arabs of all hues against her.
President Trump took a hasty step in withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 2015, generally called Iran Nuclear deal arguing that Iran was violating the terms. He also said that the deal was imbalanced. The situation worsened when in response to the American withdrawal from the JCPOA, Teheran said it would go ahead with enrichment of uranium exceeding the prescribed limits. White House had tweeted, “There was little doubt that even before the deal’s existence Iran was violating its terms”. In July 2019, the Reuter reported that Iran had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted in the JCPOA. Not only the UK and France but even China expressed its displeasure on Iran’s crossing the prescribed limits. The resentment of the Western powers came on the statement of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in July last that, ” Tehran’s next move would be to enrich uranium beyond the 3.67 percent fissile purity allowed under the deal.” It added that collecting more uranium was Iran’s way of responding to US withdrawal.
Immediate escalation of tension between Iran and the US has partly slowed down, perhaps owing to intervention by various lobbies. President Trump would not want to spoil the chances of his re-election to the office of the President as the Democrats are against war with Iran.
The irresponsible and condemnable action of Iranian defense forces of shooting down the Ukrainian civilian carrier that killed all the 176 passengers aboard the flight has triggered violent protests in Tehran in which many protestors have been shot dead by the security forces. The noteworthy thing of these protest rallies is that the protestors directly held the theocratic regime responsible for the disaster and demanded that the regime of Ayatollahs leave the stage. This is a serious indication that the future does not portend well for the Ayatollahs.
The Iran-us spat is highly embarrassing for India which has assiduously built cordial relations with Iran, the US and the Israel. We obtain one – third of our oil requirements from Iran. We have stake in Chah Bahar port and we have substantial quantum of trade with Iran. Likewise, our relations with the US are at the all-time high not only in trade and commerce sectors but also in numerous areas including security and defense. We have crucially important relations with Israel especially in obtaining latest weaponry and technical know-how necessary to further strengthen our power of offensive in a scenario of war.
These delicate relations demand that India put aside all inhibitions and try to hammer out a just and fair solution of the logjam. India cannot afford to be a silent spectator when the storm is rising in her neighborhoods. The European Union, too, has the major responsibility of saving the nuclear deal with Iran from total collapse and thus exposing the entire world to grave dangers of a nuclear holocaust.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies at Kashmir University, Srinagar)