Monday, January 16, 2006

Choices, Choices Everywhere

S. Varadarajan's timely (and leftist) reminder on the perils of India voting against Iran a second time.

Apologists for the first IAEA vote against Iran last September say that if the Americans are insisting on an `either-or', it is in India's interest to choose nuclear cooperation with Washington over hydrocarbons from Iran. What they do not realise is that a country of India's strength has the political and diplomatic ability to get both. What they also do not realise is that the slightest indication of Indian willingness to allow the U.S. to dictate its strategic choices will only lead to Washington trying to extract even more.

India's vote against Iran, for example, led the U.S. to try and impose new conditions that ran counter to the letter and spirit of the July 18 nuclear agreement. Among these were the demand that India accept in-perpetuity safeguards and give up its claims — as recognised in that agreement — to exactly the same rights and obligations in the nuclear field as the U.S. With the negotiations on civilian-military nuclear separation keenly poised, the Manmohan Singh Government should resist the temptation to blink for the second time.

No mention on how exactly to walk the tightrope (keep both happy). But important in light of the criticism emanating from the Left and surprise, surprise...even the BJP.

Now that the issue is certain to land on the UN table, India must keep its cards ready, and tilt towards the U.S. if push comes to shove. That's my twopence.

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