Trump Jeopardized Indo-Iran Interest

By Sunil Dang

The recent US-Israel tango in the Middle East and the US president Donald Trump pulling out of the Iran deal hasn’t gone down well among the closest of allies of the US. The UK, France and Germany have condemned the US decision on Iran deal in a joint press release citing, the decision may ‘tantamount to war.’ As expected Iran has retaliated vehemently against the US and announced to continue its nuke program without the US support. The Iranian President Hasan Rohani went one step ahead and announced that Iran doesn’t need US support for its nuclear programs aimed at the wellbeing of its citizens.

My suggestion for Tehran is not to become hostile with whole of the USA. It’s Trump who has taken this decision not the whole US. Rather than antagonizing with the US, Hasan Rohani should wait for change in US leadership because in diplomacy, you can’t afford to take instant decisions. Today, it would be easy for Iran to form alliances with China and Russia resulting in an effective safety net against the US just as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But, taking cue from Kim Jong-un, Rohani should assess how difficult it would be for the people of Iran to cope with sanctions after sanctions. From Iran’s perspective, except the US, majority of the other nations are in Iran’s favour. So, to score over the US on diplomatic front, Iran should behave like a responsible nation. It would help supporting nations deepen their faith in Tehran. Any step that pushes in the direction of an arms race in the region would be hazardous for both Iran and the global community. From the US perspective, re-imposing sanctions on Iran would be Trump’s most consequential foreign policy maneuver yet, having said that a meeting with Kim Jong-un looms large. Since Iran was, by all accounts, complying with the agreed tenets of the negotiated deal, USA’S pulling out of the deal could have serious consequences over engagement with North Korea and any agreement with the Hermit Nation. Trump has used every superlative in the book in criticizing the Iran deal. If he wants to broker an agreement that would result in the denuclearization of North Korea, he’s going to have to devise something even more advantageous for the US than the Iran deal. Making the Koreans agree to any such lopsided deal might prove to be very difficult and hence far-fetched, to say the least.

Apart from US-North Korea Summit, the impact of this decision on world oil prices will be the immediately visible.. Iran is presently India’s third biggest supplier (after Iraq and Saudi Arabia), and any increase in prices will hit both inflation levels and the Indian rupee, which has already breached Rs 67 to US dollar mark. In the wake of Indian promise to Iran during Hasan Rohani’s visit to India in February 2018, it would be interesting to see how New Delhi doubles its oil imports from Iran. From India’s perspective, it would also be important to see how Iran takes stands on Chabhar port and its proposed road map to India regarding Ashgawat port in the Baltic region. India’s strategy over the last few years was to develop berths at the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabaharas a way to circumvent Pakistan’s blocks on trade with Afghanistan. The new US sanctions could slow or even bring these plans to a halt depending on how strictly they are implemented. India has already committed about $85 million for Chabahar development with plans for a total of $500 million to be invested in the port, while a railway line to Afghanistan could cost as much as $1.6 billion. Last year, the US took a lenient line on India’s wheat consignment of 1.1 million tonnes sent via Chabahar, with the former US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, saying the US wanted to target the regime, not the Iranian people. His replacement, Mike Pompeo, and the new US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, have a much tougher line on Iran and any further restrictions they place will make India’s Chabahar plans more expensive or worse even unviable.