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Jewish committee expresses concern over India-Iran ties

February 14, 2012 11:44 IST

The American Jewish Committee, in a letter to Ambassador Nirupama Rao, had said they were 'deeply troubled' by news reports of Indian efforts to intensify trade relations with Iran. Suman Guha Mozumder reports.

The American Jewish Committee had sent a letter to Nirupama Rao, ambassador of India to theĀ United States a day before the Delhi car bomb blast, expressing its grave concern about India's growing relations with Iran.

In the letter, AJC stressed that any effort by India to intensify its commercial activity with Iran could undermine the US and European Union sanctions that aim to stop Iran's nuclear-weapons program.

'We are alarmed and dismayed by this apparent move to elevate commercial interests over vital security concerns,' wrote AJC President Robert Elman and Executive Director David Harris in the letter to Ambassador Rao.

Noting that AJC has been a long-time friend of India and an advocate of increasingly close cooperation between Washington and New Delhi, the letter said that AJC is 'deeply troubled' by recent news reports of Indian efforts to intensify trade relations with Iran at the very moment that Washington and fellow democracies are applying new economic pressures in the banking and energy sectors to persuade Tehran to halt its pursuit of nuclear-weapons capability.

'We were particularly struck by the announcement this week by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar that a huge delegation of Indian business representatives would soon travel to Iran to capitalise on opportunities created by European withdrawal from the Iranian market.'

'This suggests that New Delhi is attempting to take advantage of sanctions adopted by like-minded nations for the explicit purpose of preventing nuclear proliferation by a dangerously aggressive regime -- and which could, in turn, trigger an escalating arms race -- in a highly volatile region,' the letter dated February 11 said.

'In light of India's history of support for International Atomic Energy Agency resolutions on Iranian transgressions, and repeated expressions of Indian government concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions, we are alarmed and dismayed by this apparent move to elevate commercial interests over vital security concerns,' the letter said.

'India has asserted that it will only abide by UN Security Council restrictions on trade with Iran, but not go beyond. Yet, as in the recent case of Syria, further measures are today impossible because of a threatened veto by one or two permanent members.'

'We fear that India risks not only the erosion of the latest steps laudably adopted in Washington, Brussels and elsewhere, but also its standing as an admired partner in safeguarding regional and global security.'

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York