India and Iran's Nuclear Issue: The Three Policy Determinants

Dr S. Samuel C. Rajiv is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • September 2011

    Three broad policy determinants can be discerned in Indian reactions to the Iranian nuclear issue. These include: ‘strategic autonomy’ as it relates to Indian foreign policy decision making; concerns regarding ‘regional strategic stability’ as it relates to events in its ‘proximate neighbourhood’; and ‘national security’ implications on account of operative clandestine proliferation networks. Issues relating to the role of the US in influencing Indian policy positions at international forums and vis-à-vis domestic policy were prominent as regards the first determinant. Threats and ‘advice’ by American policy makers and law makers on specific issues like the Indo-US nuclear deal and the Iran–Pakistan–India gas pipeline gave further grist to critics. However, an analysis of India's concerns regarding the other two policy considerations, i.e., strategic stability and national security were ‘real and present’ and also dominated public discourse as well. With India having become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from January 2011, it should be the task of Indian diplomacy, at the UNSC as well as at other bilateral and multilateral settings, to help expand the space for the application of ‘satisfactory strategies’ and reduce the range of ‘unsatisfactory strategies’ (the latter being the then Foreign Secretary Menon's term to describe America's options vis-à-vis the issue as revealed in a WikiLeaks cable)