US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Hailey visited India at the end of June and held talks with PM Narendra Modi and other senior ministers. One of the main purposes of her visit was to ensure that India abandons its current close relations with Iran, and stops oil imports from that country.
Hailey “advised” the Indian government to break relations with Iran. In an interview with a news channel she said: "All of us have to rethink who we choose to do business with. I think as a friend India should also decide is this a country they want to continue doing business with. So yes, I had that conversation with PM Modi. It was a constructive conversation. I think for the future of India, future of resources, we would encourage them to rethink their relationship with Iran."
On the eve of Hailey’s visit, the US announced that all countries that continue to import oil from Iran after November 4 will face sanctions. India is being “encouraged” by the US to “rethink” about its relationship with Iran. The US is demanding that India treat Iran as an enemy nation and join the US in strangling that country through economic blockade. Otherwise, it would itself face sanctions from the US. This was the message delivered by Hailey to the government of India.
The US has no right to decide which country India should trade with. Its threat to impose sanctions on India is an open attack on the sovereignty of India. It is a hostile act which needs to be opposed and condemned.
India has traditionally close relations with Iran. Iran is the third largest source of oil imports for India. India is the second largest purchaser of oil from Iran, after China. In February 2018, during Iranian President Rohani’s visit to India, the two countries signed many agreements of a strategic nature. India is building a major port in Chabahar, Iran, which will open up trade routes for India with Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics, and Russia. India agreed to increase its oil purchase from Iran by 25%.
It has been reported that immediately following Nikki Haley’s visit, the government has instructed oil refining companies to cut imports of oil from Iran to zero by November.
This decision amounts to joining the US in economic blockade of Iran. To overturn its present good relations with Iran, and join the US in strangulating that country through economic blockade is not in India’s interest.
The US strategy is to establish its unrivalled domination over the whole world. It is working to carry out regime change in Iran, as it sees Iran as the major block to establishing its domination of the oil rich West Asia. In May, US President Donald Trump announced his government’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) multilateral nuclear deal signed between the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany with Iran in 2015. It followed this up with threatening sanctions on all countries which continue to trade with Iran, through a law called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). By targeting Iran, the US is also targeting Russia, China, India, and other countries. It wants to weaken all these countries which have relations with Iran.
The unilateral decision by US imperialism to walk out of the Iran nuclear agreement, followed by its decision to impose sanctions against countries trading with Iran has been opposed by the other five countries which had signed the deal with Iran, as well as by many others.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had declared in May that India would only implement sanctions imposed by the United Nations against any country, not unilateral sanctions by the US. The government has offered no explanation for why it is now changing this stand. This is because it cannot justify this as an act in India’s interests.
Over the years, the US and India have been strengthening a military strategic relationship. What the US wants to achieve from this is clear. The US is egging India to participate in the encirclement of China, to downgrade its long standing relations with Russia, and to break with Iran. This is part of US strategy to establish its domination over Asia.
None of this is in the interests of the Indian people. It is serving to increase mistrust between India and other countries in Asia. Driven by their imperialist ambitions, the capitalist monopolies who control the Indian state, are taking India on a dangerous course. History shows that whichever country embraced US imperialism did so at its own peril. Pakistan had a strategic military relationship with the US for decades. The US used Pakistan as a base to advance their interests in Asia. The people of Pakistan have been paying a heavy price for this embrace.
People cannot afford to forget the lessons of history. The pressure being put on India to join in the blockade of Iran once again confirms that the Indo US strategic partnership is against the interests of the Indian people and all the people of Asia.