UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | India-Iran relations | 11 June 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the concerns and prospects of recent India-Iran interaction.

Syllabus: GS-II International relations

India-Iran relations:

  • India-Iran relations span millennia marked by meaningful interactions.
  • The two countries shared a border till 1947 and share several common features in their language, culture and traditions. India and Iran established diplomatic links on March 15, 1950.
  • India-Iran commercial ties have traditionally been dominated by Indian import of Iranian crude oil.
  • Iran has the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas, yet it is not a major exporter.The proposed Iran-Oman-India undersea gas pipeline can help India move towards clean energy
  • Infrastructure projects like Chahbahar Port, International North South Transport Corridor will help India to bypass the overland route through Pakistan  and help in better trade relations with West and Central Asia.
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian’s first visit to India this week has many implications for bilateral relations, but it is the multilateral context and timing that stand out.

Concerns:

  • Iran is a part of China’s ambitious Belt And Road initiative.This might come in conflict with India’s interests in Iran ,considering  the fact that India has been vociferously opposing China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • With USA pulling out of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and imposing sanctions on Iran , it will be difficult for India to continue importing Oil and Natural gas from Iran and also to operationalise the Chabahar Port  in a full fledged manner.
  • Instead of increasing Indian oil imports, investments in developing reserves, building up the Chabahar rail project and scaling up trade, India has drastically cut its Iranian engagement due to sanctions, while Iran has looked to China for more infrastructure investment.
  • Bilateral trade dropped to just over $2 billion (2020-21) from $17 billion (2017-18). Ties also appeared to have been hit by New Delhi’s surprise decision to join the Israel-India-UAE-U.S. group, portrayed as an “anti-Iran” coalition, and by perceptions of Iranian support to Yemeni Houthis behind the drone attack on a UAE oil facility where an Indian was among those killed. 

Way Ahead:

  • The recent engagement is the first visit by a member of the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, which took offence to comments made in India on the Prophet.
  • Against the backdrop of the Russian war in Ukraine, and western sanctions, Iran has also been keen to convince New Delhi to restore its crude oil purchases, which it cancelled in 2019, after threats of U.S. sanctions.
  • It’s high time that India strategically aligns with both countries on an autonomous and need based approach. For this, India has to take bold steps. As a leading power it cannot buckle under pressure of any country.
  • Short term course can be developing alternate mode of payment to Iran and promoting flexibility in investment mode.
  • Carrying out high level talks with US about the security and strategic concerns of India vis-àvis China.
  • The near-term developments in its neighbourhood are a priority for Tehran even as India tries to find a balance with his stated preference to develop closer ties with both the U.S. and Israel.



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