AJC Dismayed by India’s Expanding Ties to Iran

February 11, 2012 -- New York -- AJC expressed today grave concern about India’s relations with Iran. In a letter to the Indian ambassador to the United States, AJC stressed that any effort by India to intensify its commercial activity with Iran could undermine the U.S. and EU 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 a letter to Ambassador Nirupama Rao. 

The full text of the letter to Ambassador Rao follows:

Her Excellency Nirupama Rao
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of India
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Ambassador Rao:

As you are aware, AJC has been a long-time friend of India and an advocate of increasingly close cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.

In that spirit, we were 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 capitalize 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.

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.

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.

We thank you for conveying AJC’s concerns on this urgent matter to your Government, and look forward to the prospect of discussing it with you at your earliest convenience.

With the assurance of our profound esteem and best wishes, we remain,

Robert Elman, President
David Harris, Executive Director
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