Jeffrey LewisSenators: 'Tsup With India-Iran Mil-to-Mil?

Greetings from the Red Carpet Club in Tokyo’s Narita Airport, where I am awaiting my (now delayed) flight back to DC.

I came across this interesting little document, a letter from six eight Senators to Indian President Prime Minister Singh asking him to suspend India’s nascent mil-to-mil relationship with Iran:

While we applaud India for enforcing international sanctions by ceasing the export of nuclear-related equipment to Iran, we were disturbed to read of recent reports that Iran and India have agreed to form a “joint defense working group.” This agreement, which is purported to build off of the India-Iran strategic partnership accord of 2003, will serve to undermine the efforts of the international community to isolate the regime in Tehran. [Full Text]

Vivek Raghuvanshi first reported the joint defense working group in Defense News. Iranian diplomats told Raghuvanshi they hoped “to spur defense cooperation, which had been low-key despite the strategic agreement. Under the 2003 accord, India agreed to provide Iran’s military with hardware, training, maintenance and modernization.”


  1. Amit Joshi

    Kalam is the President, Singh is the Prime Minister.

    There’s likely more action to come now that the IUCNA is on the rocks –

  2. D (History)

    It is actually eight Senators :-}

  3. Nitin (History)


    Who’s President Singh? Return to Sender, Address Unknown!

    Wonder what President Bush will make of a letter written by five Indian MPs expressing concern over the US making Pakistan a major non-NATO ally, not to mention transfer of cash and hardware worth more than US$10 billion since 2007.

    There are plenty to keep India and US away from each other. The point is, there is a greater convergence of interests at this time.

    That’s why both Prime Minister Singh (yes, that’s the correct person to write to) and President Bush won’t really care about those letters.

  4. Robot Economist (History)

    Note to Congress:

    “India’s insistence on strategic nonalignment is older than its nuclear weapons program. If they refuse to give up one, what makes you think they will give up the other? C’mon, you all know that bribery is a risky enterprise…”

    To its credit, the Economist totally called this one back in September 2005:

    For us, or against us?Sep 15th 2005 | DELHIFrom The Economist print edition

    An Iranian spanner in the strategic-partnership works

    IT WAS a short honeymoon. Just two months ago Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, returned home triumphant from a trip to Washington, DC, which seemed to have transformed relations with America. Yet this week, as Mr Singh arrived in New York for the UN’s General Assembly, the partners were trying to make up after their first tiff.

    Mr Singh’s prize in July was to secure America’s commitment to “full civil nuclear energy co-operation” with India, even though India has built nuclear weapons and has always refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The deal was controversial in India, where Mr Singh was accused of giving away too much in return.

    There were critics in America, too, who thought India had not given nearly enough. Now the administration is impatient, for two reasons. First, it feels it has shown good faith, by helping secure the support of other nuclear powers for the deal and by sending top officials to defend it to Congress. Yet India has not begun to meet its central commitment—the separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities, and the submission of the former to international controls.

    Second, America has deep reservations about India’s good relations with Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are the focus of so much concern. Just this month, Natwar Singh, India’s foreign minister, visited Iran and stressed India’s commitment to “continuing and expanding” ties. Some congressmen are outraged. Tom Lantos, a senior Democrat, last week launched a savage attack, describing Indian officials as “simply dense, because they are incapable of comprehending that other countries have their important concerns”.

    “Nothing will fly” in Congress, he predicted, unless India showed sensitivity to American concerns. The administration, of course, is more polite. But in his meeting with Mr Singh on September 13th, George Bush pressed India over Iran; America wants Iran reported to the Security Council for its nuclear activities.

    All of this bodes ill for another important issue in Indo-Iranian relations: a planned $4 billion project to pipe Iranian gas through Pakistan to India. It is a visionary scheme, seen by many as offering the hope not just of greater energy security for India and Pakistan, but of giving all three countries a huge economic stake in regional peace and stability. But it looks as if its abandonment may turn out to be part of the price America demands for its friendship.

  5. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    It’s so irritating when one makes such foolish mistakes in a hurry.


  6. Binh (History)

    Isn’t this ironic?

    The U.S. is giving nuclear aid to India outside of the NPT framework while badgering Iran even though its violations of NPT are pretty minor (that is, if you go by the evidence). Too bad Iran will get bombed if they pull out of NPT and go India’s route.

  7. Haninah (History)


    I would remind you that “India’s route” did not consist of “pull[ing] out of the NPT.” You may consider the difference between never signing a document and reneging on your signature a semantic one, but the difference in terms of the trust you will be afforded on future occasions (not to mention the goodies you might have gotten while signatory that you do not then return when you renege) is quite real.

  8. Amit Joshi

    >> Isn’t this ironic?

    >> The U.S. is giving nuclear aid to India >> outside of the NPT framework while >>badgering Iran even though its >>violations of NPT are pretty minor (that >>is, if you go by the evidence). Too bad >>Iran will get bombed if they pull out of >>NPT and go India’s route.

    Iran risks getting bombed because it makes threats against Israel and America, not because of any NPT violations.

  9. hass (History)

    US nuclear aid to India is not “outside” the NPT. It is in blatant violation of the NPT. In short the US is violating the NPT whilst demanding that Iran do more than the NPT requires. Yes folks, “ironic” is just one way of stating it.

  10. Akash (History)

    Relying on Defense News is a joke. You might as well ask the CIA if there are WMDs in Iraq. Goshdurn it, DNs stringers report EVERYTHING with very little editorial vetting. The result is that a lot of nonsense makes its way into DN and Janes pages. If all of that is taken as 100% true…then Houston we have a problem!!