“New Delhi should stand by Tehran” – says Smt Sandhya Jain

It’s interesting to know that Smt Sandhya Jain is one of those votaries of Hindu Nationalism who will support the Islamic world when it comes to a conflict with the West. The fig leaf of a justification that is used is the supposed “split” within the Islamic world – into pro & anti-Western camps. In this particular case “poor” Iran is the brave one facing up to the perpetual Western bully. “Poor and back-to-the-wall” Iran should therefore be supported by China, Russia (they are btw) and Hindusthan.

Iran is also seen as Persia of old. (I wonder why it is not seen as a successor to Zarathustra – it’s pre-Islamic past, that Islam smothered, is remembered nostalgically in the manner of dead lovers being remembered for their long dead and now useless emotions). In similar vein, one can also very well speak of what use is China’s ancient relationship with Hindusthan when the current incarnation is so hostile to this country?

In any case I have no quarrel with Smt Jain’s distaste for US policy in the region of Hindusthan. It’s dealings with Pakistan, it’s initial encouragement of Islamic forces in the so-called AfPak and a generally irresponsible, short-sighted and dangerous current attitude towards Islam and Muslims would make reasonable friends of the West and of freedom uneasy to put it mildly.  I also feel this is what really goads the good lady to take the position she does here.

I would not like anybody to confuse my love of freedom with the so-called (US) neo-conservative propensity to spread the good word of democracy in the non-free world.

The point I’m making wrt to Smt Sandhya Jain’s outlandish and downright foolish pro-Iran urge is the fact that one should never confuse material-trade based relationships with civilizational ones although they might be linked at the edges.

Hindusthan today shares nothing in common with Iran, China or Russia except the need to carve out spheres of influence so that these may protect our respective countries from dangerous International peaks and troughs. This should not lead us in Hindusthan, to take an anti-Western stance and stand with blatantly anti-Hindu forces. I dare say we have a lot in common with the West which includes the urge to be free, relevant and similar political systems and practices, love of religion and culture etc etc. Our people emigrate not to Russia or China or even (laughable as it sounds) Iran – They go to the West.

Additionally, what I found particularly galling in her article is the comparison she makes between Israel and Iran’s nuclear programs. She should know that Israel has had it’s nuclear weapons for much longer and has maintained it’s secret arsenal without being irresponsible about it. (Indeed I’m reminded of similar rumors of Hindusthan’s own secret stockpile – it was difficult to tell if we had one) This contrasts very sharply with how Iran has conducted itself. It also contrasts with what Pakistan with it’s thief scientist AQ Khan has managed to do with the connivance of a very foolish USA.

Somehow I feel it will take time for the West to rectify it’s many foreign policy blunders wrt the Islamic world. I have also argued elsewhere at VFR that it should probably recognize why Russia and China are supporting the thug regime in Iran.

There is a way to settle non-Islamic-world differences and face the real Islamic threat unitedly.

Is that not our real challenge?

– Namaste

New Delhi should stand by Tehran

Sandhya Jain

Shyam Bhatia’s memorable Goodbye Shehzadi, after former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December 2007, revealed her confiding in 2003 that she personally delivered designs for making a nuclear bomb to North Korea in 1993, in exchange for missile technology. Her livid political heirs harangued both author and publisher; Simon Henderson’s revelations in Sunday Times (September 20, 2009) give Bhatia the last laugh.

Henderson had AQ Khan’s 10 December 2003 ‘insurance’ letter since 2007, so the story is in the timing of his exposure. Pakistan’s nuclear journey has been carefully monitored, perhaps even mentored, by America from its inception, and used to Washington’s advantage. A former Dutch Prime Minister alleged that the CIA had intervened to prevent action against Pakistani master proliferator AQ Khan.

Remember the Pressler Amendment of 1984? It linked continued US aid and military sales to Pakistan to presidential certification that Islamabad does not possess a nuclear explosive device, and that new aid ‘will reduce significantly the risk’ of its possessing one. Successive American Presidents routinely gave this certificate to Congress, though aware of Islamabad’s activities.

In the early 1980s, reports surfaced of Pakistan obtaining a pre-tested atomic bomb design and bomb-grade enriched uranium from China. It imported components of inverters used in gas centrifuge enrichment activities, via Canada; and zirconium for nuclear fuel cladding. By 1983, America was aware of the Kahuta uranium-enrichment facility.

Pakistan’s nuclear prowess grew in concert with media leaks about its ability to acquire components and test specific stages of the nuclear cycle. In 1986, when US intelligence claimed Pakistan had weapons-grade material, Gen Zia-ul-Haq affirmed that when Pakistan acquired the technology, “the Islamic world will possess it with us.” Violations of US Nuclear Export Control grew according to Islamabad’s needs; West Germany and Switzerland seized nuclear equipment and uranium enrichment blueprints en route to Pakistan in 1987; by 1989 America knew Islamabad was modifying F-16 aircraft for nuclear delivery purposes.

In 1990, first reports came of Islamabad’s nuclear cooperation with Iran. In 1991, Pakistan bought nuclear-capable M-11 missiles from China. Every nuclear-relevant acquisition was monitored till Pakistan’s official explosions of 1998 made the programme public. Turkey’s role in helping Pakistan throughout was ignored. The Reagan and Bush Administrations wilfully violated the Pressler Amendment and US nuclear non-proliferation laws. Pakistani scientists were regularly invited to ‘Detonation symposiums’ hosted by American nuclear weapon laboratories!

Throughout, American intelligence made claims about Iraq’s nuclear programme, as false as the weapons of mass destruction used as the horrendous invasion of that country. North Korea is not yet on Washington’s actionable radar; Libya has already prostrated before America. Interestingly, US intelligence nowhere brings on record the Saudi role in bankrolling Pakistan’s nuclear programme, conceived as an ‘Islamic Bomb’ by its initiator, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. We are also clueless if Pakistan has shared nuclear devices with its chief patron.

That leaves Iran — a country the White House is determined to chastise, partly to compensate certain defeat in Afghanistan and Pakistan; partly to avenge the ouster of Shah Reza Pehlavi and nationalisation of the oil industry; and certainly to avert the proposed transition of the oil trade to the Euro. The Henderson letter says AQ Khan gave Iran the suppliers list. It is a small detail that all nuclear suppliers are Western (Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom, Switzerland, The Netherlands), who know why their products are being purchased.

Is Iran guilty of illicit activity? Russia, which is building a civilian nuclear power plant near Bushehr, maintains there is no evidence of Tehran violating the NPT regime. IAEA felt the same. More pertinently, contrary to US President Barack Obama’s claim on September 25 that Iran has a “secret nuclear facility” which can produce a bomb; Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 21 that a new nuclear facility was under construction at Qom.

Iran thus fulfilled its obligations under the safeguards agreement; the IAEA is due to inspect the facility on October 25, and will thereafter monitor the nuclear material produced therein to ensure it is not diverted to a weapons programme. All this makes Mr Obama’s false alarm look like a replay of the discredited Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.”

In sharp contrast to his intolerance of the Iranian nuclear programme —alleged by some to have active Russian complicity — President Obama has reputedly reaffirmed the 1969 secret understanding which allows Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal. The secret accord, sealed when he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House earlier in May, pledges not to pressurise Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which Tel Aviv would have to surrender an estimated several hundred nuclear bombs. Obama critics argue this could hamper US efforts to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty into force.

A major cause of American anger is Teheran’s determination to control Shia-majority Iraq. Iran has always been a regional power; historically the Sassanians controlled Mesopotamia and fought the Romans and Byzantines. Later, the Sunni Ottoman Turks were checkmated by the Persian Shia Safavids.

Iran is well placed to confront Western hegemony if supported by Russia, China and India. Currently India is unwilling to face Washington; it voted against Iran in the IAEA to facilitate the undesirable civilian nuclear deal. But with America trying to exert new pressures to operationalise the deal, New Delhi should stand by Tehran. While India has legitimate security concerns over the stalled Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, which Washington wants scrapped, the inclusion of China could make it worthwhile.

Observers feel an American-approved Israeli strike on Iran seems imminent in coming months. This will drag America into the war in order to keep the Strait of Hormuz open for free flow of oil (about 40 per cent of all seaborne traded oil, headed for the US, Western Europe, Asia and Japan), and protect America from the charge of having initiated yet another costly, and most probably futile, war.

Israel has urged America to hasten delivery of the 15-tonne super bunker-buster bomb (GBU-57A/B) Massive Ordinance Penetrator which can reach a depth of 60.09 metres underground before exploding. Top defence agencies are racing to adapt the bay of a B2a Stealth bomber to carry and deliver the bomb, and make all available by end December or January 2010.

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