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Will Blast at Israeli Embassy Affect Iran-India Ties?

America's Jewish lobby has criticized India for its special ties with Iran. Will the blast at the Israeli embassy affect those ties?
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/14/2012, 4:16 AM

Mumbai, India
Mumbai, India
Flash 90

America’s Jewish lobby has turned the spotlight on India over its continuing ties with Iran, the India-based Economic Times is reporting.

The report said that the American Jewish Committee sent a letter last week to India's ambassador to the U.S., Nirupama Rao, in which it said it was “deeply troubled” by recent reports of India's efforts to intensify trade relations with Iran “at the very moment when the U.S. and fellow democracies are applying new economic pressures to persuade Tehran to halt its nuclear program.”

According to the Economic Times, the letter took particular exception to the announcement made by Indian commerce secretary Rahul Khullar in the past week 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.

The report quoted the letter as saying, “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.”

The letter also expressed alarm and dismay at “this apparent move to elevate commercial interests over vital security concerns.”

The letter was written before Monday’s blast near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, the report noted. It was written after a three-day visit to Washington by India's foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, who during his trip tried to explain India's stand on continued trade with Iran to a skeptical US audience. The Iran question surfaced at almost every meeting Mathai had with U.S. administration officials and lawmakers, noted the Economic Times.

The relations between Iran and India may take an interesting turn in the wake of Monday’s blast. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for the attack, saying that “Iran, the largest exporter of terrorism in the world,” along with its client Hizbullah, were behind it.

Iran, however, denied Netanyahu’s accusations and claimed that Israel itself was behind the attack and that it carried it out “to tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries.”

India, which has tasked the Special Cell of the Delhi Police to investigate the attack, stated on Monday that it does not intend to remain complacent in the face the attack.

“If Iran was involved, there will be severe implications, including diplomatic sanctions,” a government announcement said.