Iranian Defence Minister: Tehran wants “to take forward the relationship between India and Iran, in terms of military trade.” With President Donald Trump out of the White House, Iran and India seek to expand bilateral trade and defence ties
New Delhi, which stopped buying Iranian oil in mid-2019 after President Trump reinstated sanctions against Tehran, is looking forward to resuming the supply from Iran. “India is hoping U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will take a softer line against adversaries” mainly Iran, Indian business daily The Mint reported late last month.
India, Iran’s second-largest buyer after China before the U.S. sanction kicked in, imported close to 24 million tons of crude oil from the Islamic Republic in financial year 2018-19, covering over 10 percent of its demand.
According to Iranian regime officials, Tehran plans to double its oil production in 2021 amid hopes of sanctions relief under President Joe Biden. “The penalties [oil trade] were tightened under former U.S. president Donald Trump and although the new President Joe Biden is more conciliatory,” Reuters reported on Thursday.
New Delhi’s resumption of oil shipments could mean a big financial boost to Iran, a leading state sponsor of terrorism. India is the world’s third-largest oil consumer after the U.S. and China.
The more troubling development appears to be the prospect of military and strategic cooperation between the two countries. Tehran wants “to take forward the relationship between India and Iran, in terms of military trade,” Iranian Defence Minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami said during his last week’s trip to India.
New Delhi also eyes access to the Iranian port of Chabahar meant to connect India to the markets in central Asia and eastern Europe. The development of the port and related trade corridor by India was put on ice in the wake of President Trump’s campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ Iran. With President Biden in the White House, India has resumed work on the port development, Indian media recently confirmed.
Indian newspaper The Economic Times, on February 2, reported the push for Iran-India strategic ties since President Biden took charge:
India has stepped up engagements with its extended neighbour Iran by handing over cranes for the strategically located Chabahar Port within days of the Biden administration taking charge.
Ahead of the Iranian defence minister’s trip for the Aero India show and the Indian Ocean Defence Ministers’ meet, senior MEA [Indian Minister of External Affairs] officials visited Tehran to push various initiatives, including the Chabahar Port, where technical work has expanded over the last few weeks. Ministers from Iran are likely to visit India.
This military and strategic alliance should alarm policy markers in Washington who often argue for stronger geostrategic ties with India in light of China’s growing appetite for military aggression and adventurism. U.S. State Department officials and security analysts often see New Delhi as an effective counterweight to Communist China. This has led to strengthening of wide-ranging bilateral cooperation in defence and critical technologies, including in the nuclear, space, and IT sectors.
The military cooperation with Iran also threatens India’s defence projects with the State of Israel, a nation Iran’s ruling Mullahs wants to ‘wipe off’ the face of the earth.
Israel and India are jointly developing missile defence systems. Private Indian firms have reached agreements with their Israeli counterparts to manufacture military equipment for Indian needs. India has also shown interest in Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence shield.
India, prone to Islamic terrorism, is playing with fire by opening up to military and strategic cooperation with Tehran. When it comes to the targets of Iran’s worldwide jihad, India is right next to the U.S. and Israel. Tehran backs Islamic terrorism in India’s Muslim-majority Kashmir region.
“Today the major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathize and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime,” Iran’s Islamic-theocratic leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei proclaimed in 2010.
In August 2019, Khamenei repeated those threats against India. New Delhi must “prevent confrontations with the Muslims” over Kashmir, he warned in his Friday sermon. India’s exercise of sovereignty over the Muslim-majority region was a “ugly act” and “not in India’s interest,” he added.
While India hopes for strategic and trade benefits by cooperating with Iran, Tehran is firmly in Beijing’s circle of influence, aiding of China’s naval and military encirclement of India. China’s 400 billion investment deal with Iran could give the Chinese military access to Iranian naval, air, and military bases.
The rapprochement between the strange bedfellows, Shia-Islamic Iran and Hindu-majority India, comes as President Biden tries to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Resuscitating Obama era appeasement policies, the Biden White House hopes to bring Tehran, the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, on the path of righteousness by being nice to the ruling clericals of Iran.
In an apparent move to please Iran, the Biden State Department on Friday removed the pro-Iranian Houthi militia from the list of designated terrorist groups, reversing the Trump administration decision. The motto of the exonerated Iran-backed militia is: “Allahu Akbar, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.”
The Biden team is also going easy on the regime’s bloody human rights record. The Voice of America noted recently that top Biden staffers were “silent on Iran’s rights record” while they worked with Tehran on the nuclear issue.