Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

The other nuclear summit and the role of Asian regional players

April 11, 2010

AFGHANISTAN-IRAN/

Leaders of more than 40 countries are gathering in Washington for a summit beginning on Monday to control the spread of nuclear weapons. Iran for obvious reasons is not invited, but it has announced a conference of its own soon after the Washington meeting. It’s called ‘Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for None, and among those who have agreed to attend  are India, Pakistan and China.  

While the level of representation to the Teheran meeting is not at the same level as Washington for all three countries, the fact that they have chosen to attend seems to be a signal to the Obama administration just as it is trying to isolate Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons programme. India’s presence in particular has raised the question if it is starting to re-assess ties with Tehran that have in recent years been allowed to slip in the pursuit of a strategic relationship with America. 

 As The Hindu newspaper noted the Tehran conference is a “red rag” to Washington and it has been  quietly discouraging countries to attend.  For New Delhi to agree to send its ambassador to the meeting can only be a signal that it is looking to expand its diplomatic space in the region as differences emerge with Washington over its Afghan strategy weighted towards Pakistan, Indian experts say.New Delhi really should be re-energising links with Tehran  if it wants to maintain its reach in Afghanistan, they say. Without a geographically contiguous border and a hostile Pakistan in the middle, Iran remains the only corridor to Afghanistan.

India must join a natural gas pipeline that the Iranians have been pushing for  that will run through Pakistan., argues journalist Atul Arneja  in widely flagged piece also in The Hindu. For years India has resisted Iranian overtures in large part  because of reservations over the pipeline passing through Pakistan, but also because of upsetting Washington. Arneja argues that  India can involve China and Russia too in the project  to increase its sense of comfort over the pipeline traversing through Pakistan. 

So much for India, what about Pakistan ? Why is it going to Tehran to attend the summit at a time  when  ties with Washiugton are on a more even footing than can be said even a few months ago ? Pakistan has actually gone ahead and signed the natural gas pipeline deal with Iran and the foreign office said  this weekend Islamabad will act according to its national interests.  “US diktat on Iran pipeline not to be entertained”,  read a headline  in The Dawnreferring to the U.S. State Department’s remarks that it wasn’t the right time to be conducting such a transaction with Iran. Despite the improved ties,  Pakistan has its own issues with Washington, nuclear energy one of them. Denied a civilian nuclear deal of the kind that the United States has sealed with India,. the Pakistanis are essentially saying theywill explore all options to meet their energy needs.

Shouldn’t be much of a surprise that China is attending the Tehran summit though. It has resisted tougher sanctions against Iran and until almost the final week before the Washington conference  it wasn’t certain if President  Hu Jintao would attend owing to tensions over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, Tibet and the yuan .

Comments

All the three countries mentioned are the neighbours of Iran and possess nuclear weapons. Their attendance is very significant and indirectly follows China’s long standing strategy of not involving itself in the domestic affairs of other countries. It is about time that the Western nuclear powers take heed of this strategy and stop their persistent encroachment on the independence of other countries.
Perhaps at this juncture we should ask the question why the US defence secretary insists that Iran does not yet have the atomic weapons? His predecessor insisted that Iraq had mass destruction weapons, although the Iraqi Govt: kept on denying it. Has Iran denied that they do not already possess nuclear weaponary?

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

Just because the US considers Iran as hostile, doesn’t mean that every other country must fall in line. India will do what is in its own interests. There is much the US does that is against the perceived interests of other friendly countries and this is but natural. The US may try its level best to scuttle this, it is upto the individual countries to do what matters to them. That it is against US interests is not a criteria here.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive
 

Let India be Independent of US foreign policy

 

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