Issue Date: February 22, 2008
India's warming toward Israel concerns Iran
NEW DELHI -- Indias traditionally friendly relations with Iran have come under strain because of the launching of an Israeli spy satellite by an Indian Space Research Organization rocket last month.
This comes on top of recent tensions caused by Indias refusal to attend talks to complete a commercial deal on a proposed Iran-India-Pakistan gas pipeline.
The satellite is equipped to capture images of small objects day and night while penetrating cloud cover. It is widely believed to be designed to enable Israel to track activities in its neighborhood, in particular, activities pertaining to Irans nuclear program.
Seyed Mahdi Nabizadeh, Irans ambassador in New Delhi, said Feb. 5 that he regretted Indias assistance in boosting the satellite into orbit from a launching pad in southern Andhra Pradesh state Jan. 21.
The Indian government justified the launch on technical and commercial grounds. But Nabizadeh said: We hope the issue could be considered from the political point of view also. Our relationship with India is very strong and good. Many are trying to destroy [that] relationship. ... We hope that wise and independent countries such as India would not give their space technology to other countries to launch instruments for spying against friendly countries like Iran.
The ambassador said Iran has not spoken to India on this matter at an official level but has expressed displeasure informally.
The development of the satellite and its launch were shrouded in secrecy. Its launch, originally scheduled for September last year, was postponed, apparently for political reasons.
The Indian government is clearly divided between its formal position that Irans current nuclear activities are legitimate and its keenness to develop a close partnership with Israel, said Achin Vanaik, professor of international relations and global politics at Delhi University.
India has become Israels biggest arms buyer. Between 2000 and 2006, India bought military hardware and software worth $7 billion from Israel. Deals include $1 billion for the Falcon early warning system, $480 million to develop a next generation Barak missile for Indias navy, and $2.5 billion to develop antiaircraft and antimissile systems.
-- Inter Press Service
National Catholic Reporter, February 22, 2008
|Copyright © The
National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd.,
Kansas City, MO 64111
All rights reserved.
TEL: 816-531-0538 FAX: 1-816-968-2280 Send comments about this Web site to: firstname.lastname@example.org