Even as India’s position, of not seeing a nuclear Iran, has been Econsistent, the formulation of policies to meet this objective has gone through various phases. India has ultimately striven to pursue its national interest, which has been the maintenance of peace, tranquillity and stability in West Asia. This definition of national interest stems from numerous factors, including the number of Indian nationals living in West Asia; the remittances which India receives from the region; the region’s vast petroleum reserves; and also its geographical proximity to the Indian sub-continent. India sees the spread of nuclear weapons as a destabilising agent for any region and in particular West Asia.
Therefore, while India has supported Iran on its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme, it has stressed upon Iran that it should adhere to its obligations as a Non-Nuclear Weapon State (NNWS) under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The process of understanding Indian policies on nuclear developments in Iran, without doubt, has to begin with an examination of India’s own position as a nuclear power in the global nuclear order. A detailed study of Indian policies and decisions concerning the Iranian nuclear programme, however, reveals a number of other critical factors, which have influenced policy makers in New Delhi in varying degrees. These include India’s historic relations with Iran, trade of petroleum resources and India’s domestic energy security, and the civil nuclear cooperation deal which India negotiated with the US in the past decade.
This paper briefly examines these critical factors, along with India’s overall approach to the issue of nuclear non-proliferation. The following section examines Indian approach to nuclear developments in Iran and studies how each of the factors has influenced this approach. It concludes with the argument that while various factors have had an unavoidable effect on Indian policies, the decision-making was largely driven by India’s urge to define and serve its national interest with influences from some of the unavoidable underlying factors.
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