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  • The Iranian Nuclear Imbroglio and the NAM Summit

    Though the NAM Summit was an important occasion for Iran to showcase its diplomatic acceptability, its impact on the future contours of the Iranian nuclear imbroglio will likely be minimal.

    September 19, 2012

    Arab Spring and the Non-Arabs of West Asia

    Iran, Israel and Turkey have adopted a two pronged approach to deal with the Arab Spring: avoid the negative consequences of the uprisings while at the same time deriving mileage to further their interests in an uncertain neighbourhood.

    September 07, 2012

    The Invisible War in West Asia

    The two recent malware attacks on energy companies in West Asia are particularly worrisome since they represent a rapid escalation in capabilities and intent on the part of the perpetrators.

    September 07, 2012

    Eminem asked: What could be the geo-political implications if Iran goes nuclear?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: If Iran goes nuclear, depending on whether one is a nuclear optimist or pessimist, it could lead either to a more stable Middle East/West Asia or be a cause of greater instabilities. Proponents of the former view include international relations theorists like Kenneth Waltz.

    Countries of the region of course hold quite a different view. Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries contend that a nuclear Iran would be emboldened to undertake de-stabilising activities with greater impunity. These could range from increased support for organizations, such as the Hezbollah and Hamas, to contemplating offensive actions like missile attacks or naval brinkmanship for instance.

    Accordingly, these countries are fortifying themselves with missile defence assets, procuring sophisticated military assets, among other measures. The GCC countries like Saudi Arabia are also on record stating that they will most definitely explore the possibility of obtaining the nuclear option themselves if Iran goes nuclear. US officials like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Strategic Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler have hinted at the possibility of bestowing extended nuclear deterrence on their allies in the region.

    Conflicts between Iran and the Gulf Arab States: An Economic Evaluation

    The post-2003 Persian Gulf sub-region has witnessed intensified geopolitical conflicts and competition between Iran and the Gulf Arab states, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Scholars and experts have mostly analysed the conflicts through political and strategic prisms while neglecting their economic dimensions. This article analyses the various post-2003 conflicts between Iran and the Gulf Arab states with a focus on how economic integration or the lack thereof creates the incentives to resolve or sustain the conflicts.

    India and the US: Squaring the Circle on Iran

    Attempts by India and the US to square the circle on the nature of India’s energy cooperation with Iran have hit high gear in the aftermath of Clinton’s visit.

    May 10, 2012

    Ajai Vir asked - How do you view the nuclear stance of Iran and North Korea? Is it similar in the context of geopolitics?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: Iran and North Korea have presented significant challenges to the international non-proliferation regime. Both countries face difficult regional security situations. However, there are differences in the two cases which make their respective nuclear stances also different.

    Iran is a regional power in its own right – a huge country (Robert Kaplan calls Iran ‘the greater Middle East’s universal joint’), significant population, massive natural resources, among other strengths. The only claim to fame for North Korea is its dubious nuclear status. While Iran is a theocracy with democratic elections, the other is an authoritarian state based on a personality cult.

    As regards their interactions with the non-proliferation regime, North Korea is no longer part of the NPT, while Iran had threatened in the past that it will quit the treaty if pushed to the wall. However, all of Iran’s ‘declared’ nuclear activities continue to come under NPT/IAEA safeguards. While Iran has not followed through on IAEA/UNSC resolutions since September 2005 urging it to stop its uranium enrichment activities among other requirements, North Korea has indulged in a series of nuclear and missile brinkmanship and has been unpredictable in its nuclear stance.

    Khamenei Strikes Back

    Khamenei may view this election as a means to restore his authority and reassure his followers that he is still firmly in control and will continue to safeguard the ideology of the Islamic Revolution.

    April 13, 2012

    To Stop Iran Getting the Bomb, Must We Learn to Live with Its Nuclear Capability?

    The latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme, released on November 8, 2011, has effectively raised the global threat level. The agency faced the daunting challenge of making a judgement on how far Iran's nuclear programme has advanced and its potential for weaponisation on the basis of suggestive but dated, inconclusive and possibly fake evidence (hundreds of pages of evidence have been sourced to one laptop of unproven provenance given to the IAEA by a Western intelligence agency).

    March 2012

    Iran in the Israeli Calculus

    Israel is likely to calculate that it would better to wait and use diplomacy to push the major global and regional powers towards some kind of a joint venture against the much feared nuclear designs of Iran.

    March 13, 2012