India is increasingly finding itself between a rock and a hard place following the Trump administration's unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposition of sanctions. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley's advice for India 'to rethink their relationship with Iran' shows Washington's attempt to manipulate India. For, New Delhi, though, changing the relationship with Tehran is easier said than done. As for US itself, it may not get any support from other major trading blocks in this move.
Adamant attitude of US worrying
US has been intervening in Iranian affairs for decades. In fact, referring to the CIA backed mission to overthrow Iran's elected prime minister to secure the Shah's rule in 1953, Iran has always nurtured the feeling that the US was unnecessarily interfering in its internal affairs.
The impact of the return of sanctions has ramped up tension inside Iran, which has seen days of protests and strikes in multiple towns and cities over water shortages, high prices and wider anger at the political system. No advocate of human rights, civil liberties and due process would defend the current regime in Iran - with its history of abuses, of clamping down on press freedom, of persecuting minorities and of failing to offer democratic protection and due process. The fact that the US claims the moral high ground when it comes to human rights and civil liberties, including press freedom, is one of the reasons why Trump's own attacks on the media have been so horrifying.
Coming to the present situation, India and Iran share historical ties, though the dimension of the India-Iran relationship is often ignored. The two shared common borders until the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. Persian influence on Mughal architecture is pervasive. Formal diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in 1950. Presently, Iran is India's third largest supplier of crude oil. However, the India-Iran relationship transcends oil. India, with an investment of 500 million dollars, aims to develop Iran's Chabahar Port as a transit hum for Afghanistan, Central Asia and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Additionally, India is developing two gas fields, namely Farsad-B located in Tehran and the South Pars field located between Iran and Qatar. These projects clearly highlight India's long-term engagement with Iran. US sanctions will severely hamper the above projects and investments too. With the US making it clear that no country dealing with Iran would be given access to the US financial and banking system, India faces a paradoxical situation thus.