by Vijeta Uniyal
- U.S. President Barack Obama might be right about not allowing a nuclear Iran "on his watch," but after he leaves the White House -- and because of him -- the nuclear landscape of the Middle East might be "radiating" like a pinball machine.
- Western powers negotiating the Iran deal have demonstrated that they lack the conviction and resolve to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon -- or prevent Arab countries from acquiring nuclear weapons of their own.
- And with President Obama shrinking America's "footprint" in the world, this time the cavalry might not be coming.
India's Foreign Ministry and media welcomed the Iran deal, much as their counterparts in Western capitals did. But country's defence establishment and business community are raising their concerns about the newly negotiated deal with Iran.
Recent defence procurements show that India is preparing for a destabilizing Middle East. In the run-up to the Iran deal, India has been ramping up its missile defence capabilities, including building a comprehensive missile defence shield capable of intercepting a ballistic missile fired from a range of 5,000 km -- effectively covering the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf region.
India has good reason to be concerned about an Iranian windfall from its oil trade financing Shia militancy across the Muslim world. The Iranian ascendancy could intensify the Shia-Sunni fight for the control of political Islam and spill over into India's Kashmir region and beyond.
India's primary concern, however, remains neighbouring Pakistan.
As this nuclear deal sets a Shiite Iran on the highway to a nuclear bomb, rival Sunni-Arab nations are getting jittery about the prospect of living in an Iranian-dominated Middle East.
Pakistan would be the preferred one-stop shop from Sunni-Arab nations to acquire a "turnkey" nuclear bomb. Saudi Arabia has apparently financed Pakistan's clandestine nuclear program for decades and hopes get an "off the shelf" nuclear bomb in return. U.S. President Barack Obama might be right about not allowing a nuclear Iran "on his watch," but after he leaves the White House -- and because of him -- the nuclear landscape of the Middle East might be "radiating" like a pinball machine.
The multi-billion dollar nuclear deals between Pakistan and Sunni-Arab nations will be brokered by the Pakistani Army, and the money will largely go to fund Islamist infrastructure and jihadist insurgencies in Kashmir and beyond.
The Iran deal also ends India's hopes of oil exploration in Iran. Major Western powers such as Germany and France, which pushed for an agreement, will be lining up to secure trade concessions from Iran in return for removing sanctions and watering down restrictions.
Indians will not be playing in that club of Oil Majors -- it will be forced to take a back seat. Political commentators in India who may have hoped for unrestricted access to Iranian cheap oil after the lifting of sanctions, have not factored in that the French and the Germans are eying the same oil reserves.
Both Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda have repeated their calls for jihad on India. With ISIS in Syria having paraded a captured Scud missile that is capable of carrying a tactical nuclear warhead, it doesn't take much imagination to picture a nuclear-armed Arab state falling to Islamic State or its affiliates.
Islamic State jihadists parade a mobile-launched Scud tactical ballistic missile, captured from Syrian regime forces, through their capital of Raqaa in June 2014.
The best India can do is to hedge its bets, secure its borders and strengthen its defences.
Like Israel, India too must realize that it is on its own. The Western powers that negotiated the Iran deal have demonstrated that they lack the conviction and resolve to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons -- or prevent Arab countries from acquiring nuclear weapons of their own.
And with President Obama shrinking America's "footprint" in the world, this time the cavalry might not be coming.
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