As Iran-US tensions escalate, India finds itself in a tough spot

It will be difficult for India to ignore the regional coalition against Iran
As Iran-US tensions escalate, India finds itself in a tough spot
As Iran-US tensions escalate, India finds itself in a tough spot ...

ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS All is not quiet on the Western front!

India will be looking West with great concern as tensions between the United States and Iran escalate. Things just got trickier for India, with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flying in on Monday night. He is expected to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday. Zarif is hoping that India would throw its weight behind Iran in what looks like a possible (read military) conflict with the US.

The US has deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to send a signal to Iran that it means business. Iran, characteristically, has ratcheted up tensions and refused to back down.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guard's air force, on Monday, referred this as an “opportunity” and a “target”, suggesting that it was a sitting duck and Iran was ready to attack. For India, this situation—with its potential to explode—only means double trouble.

A confrontation has been brewing between the US and Iran for some time now, but things have moved swiftly in the past few days. Less than a week ago, Iran informed signatories to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal that the country is no longer planning to abide by certain "voluntary commitments" made in the accord and added that it would resume enrichment of uranium beyond the accord-permitted 3.67 per cent after 60 days, if the signatory states failed to come up with a plan to protect Iran's oil and banking sectors from sanctions. Even as the EU is trying desperately to salvage the deal in Brussels, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delayed his visit to Russia to hold talks with the EU leaders on Iran. The message is clear, America wants to push Iran into a corner.

“As long it was between the US and Iran, India could have managed to confrontation,'' said Harsh Pant, director, Studies & Head Strategic Studies Programme at the Observer Research Foundation. “However, if it takes on a regional manifestation, India's ability to leverage the situation will be limited. It does seem that the US is acting with the tacit agreement of countries in the region.”

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