“Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it,” says Edmund Burke. This quote of Burke is holding true in today’s time. The whole conundrum began during the period of Iran Revolution in 1978-79 when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, commonly known as Shah was overthrown by the people of Iran and the war between US and Iran started, portraying a negative image of Iran in front of the whole world. During the Iran Revolution, Iranians took control over the US Embassy in Iran, and most of the diplomats were held hostage for a total of 444 days. Post this, in 1987 the US imposed asset freeze and embargo and even imposed economic sanctions on the State of Iran.
The biggest money earner for Iran then, and still is, the vast oil reserves it has and earns a huge amount of money via the export of crude oil. Due to the sanctions imposed by the UN, the economy already in the turmoil of a revolution took another big hit. The major bread earner of the State was no longer there. Iran tried to sell its oil secretly to the allies it had back then, but most of them did not cooperate with Iran because of the sanctions imposed on it. Even EU imposed a ban on Iranian Banks, so all of the doors for the country to export its oil were closed. This led the Government of Iran to take some radical steps. The biggest one was the enrichment of Uranium capable of producing nuclear weapons. UNGA passed a resolution for making Iran stop its Uranium Enrichment Program, which Iran refused to do. Thus in 2006, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran via Resolution 1696. Though, Iran always maintained that the Uranium Enrichment Program is for civilian purposes only.
Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran Nuclear Deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed in 2015 in Lausaane, Switzerland, between the Islamic Republic of Iran, P5+1, and European Union. This P5+1 included US, Russia, United Kingdom, France China, and Germany. According to this deal, Iran would redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities and accept the Additional Protocol in order to lift all nuclear-related economic sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets. Further, Iran had to limit its enrichment capacity, enrichment levels, and Uranium stockpile. Iran could enrich Uranium just for civilian purposes and for its monitoring IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) would do regular checks on the nuclear enrichment facility and other nuclear facilities. IAEA has reported that till date Iran has fulfilled every single obligation of the JCPOA imposed on it.
This deal was able to take shape because of the efforts of the then US President, Barak Obama, and the current president Hassan Rouhani. Both of them wanted to start trade with each other and wanted to keep the past aside and start a relationship afresh.
New Sanction on Iran
On 8th May 2018, Trump Administration withdrew from the JCPOA. This withdrawal is the complete violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which the US had drafted itself. On the same day, US reimposed the previous sanction it had on Iran. This violation is a serious breach of legal obligations under the UN Charter. The US has discreetly also asked other States to impose sanctions on Iran and stop all trade activities with Iran by 4th November 2018.
The Guardian says that this action is a threatening economic revenge against the countries that continue their economic ties with Iran, is to weaponize its economy. It is a clear rejection of diplomacy and multilateralism; a clear call for confrontation rather than cooperation; an open invitation to resorting to the logic of force instead of force of logic.
This, out of the blue, withdrawal by the US might be because of the stance the US and Iran have taken in the issue of Syria. The US supports the rebel group and thus the revolution in Syria and on the other hand Iran supports the Syrian Government under Bashar al-Assad. This proxy war fought amongst many countries in Syria might also be the reason for imposing sanctions on Iran, just veiling it under the cloak of Nuclear Weaponisation by Iran.
Status of India
Iran is a strong ally of India for a long time. 20 -25% of the oil imported into India is from Iran. Both the countries have deep cultural as well as social ties. And more importantly, the Chahbahar Port in Iran, the trade route established by India to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, is a major Indian Investment. All these ties are in some kind of a jeopardy due to the sanctions imposed on Iran by the US.
India has recently started having good relations with the US and can now be confidently called allies. And on 6th September 2018 under the 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, India has now been promoted to a defense ally of the US and also agreements have been signed under the COMCASA allowing India to have a control over the US defense equipment. These statements point towards the issue that the US will ask India to bring down the trade and ties with Iran to zero by 4th November 2018.
Many are anticipating that India will bow down to the pressure of US and will concurrently impose sanctions on Iran on one side. On the other side, many hope that India will have a rational dialogue with the US just like the European Union that imposing sanctions will severe the long friendly ties along with the imbalance India will have to face if it stops importing oil from Iran, which is one of the biggest contributors of crude oil to India. Not to forget the Chahbahar port, if the sanctions are imposed; India’s dream of having a trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics will stay a dream only.
Thus the logical position India should hold is to not bow down under the pressure and should, if the need be, amend the foreign policy with Iran keeping the national interest of our country in mind.