11 June 2016

Iran’s market belongs to the lion-hearted

MK Bhadrakumar – June 8, 2016

The biggest hurdle in the follow-up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran will be the Indian bureaucracy. The security establishment, which has profound difficulty in understanding Iran and sees it as the land of Islamic fundamentalists, never wanted India to get entangled with that country.
As for the foreign-policy establishment, it is guided by the Israeli cat whiskers, and is certain that the Iran nuclear deal has no future, and, therefore, what is the point in hurrying.
To be sure, Nitin Gadkari has a job on his hands to get the bureaucracy cracking with the implementation of the projects in the pipeline with Iran.
Our bureaucrats can learn a few things from the way Americans do business with Iran. Here is a country that Iranians used to call Great Satan. Here is a country that we foolishly imagine to be the playpen of the Israeli Lobby. Here is a country that we think is disinterested in seriously engaging with Iran.
And, yet, in April, as soon as it became known that Airbus had secured a $27 billion deal for supplying 118 passenger aircraft to Iran, Washington lost no time to take a historic decision – to give a ‘waiver’ enabling Boeing to send a team down to Tehran (despite the US sanctions against Iran) to figure out the business prospects.
The Iranians of course were happy to receive the team and both sides kept the pretence that this was an opportunity to get to know each other.
Now, two months down the line, Reuters has figured out that Boeing has already begun working on a deal to supply around 100 aircraft to Iran – almost on the same scale as Airbus.
The stunning part is that Boeing cannot do business with Iran within the ambit of the existing US sanctions.
The US sanctions prohibit the American banks from financing business involving Iran. Dollar is out of bounds for any transactions with Iran. Nonetheless, where there is will, there is a way, and but the US Treasury is considering how to circumvent the sanctions to secure the lucrative deal, which would create thousands of new jobs. According to Boeing executives, the discussions are making “progress”.
This should be an eye-opener for us. At a recent US Congressional hearing, Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal assured the American lawmakers that Washington is “watching very closely” India’s relationship with Iran. She voiced her determination to ensure that the Chabahar project that Modi finalised in Tehran meets the US’ legal parameters and requirements. (Indian Express)
Of course, not an Indian official showed the spunk to stand up and tell Biswal it is none of her business to sit in judgment on our prime minister’s decisions. So terrified are our chaps when it comes to the US’ diktat. What is the kind of image that we are presenting to the Iranians by such cowardly behaviour? Doing business with Iran needs a different mindset. Read the Reuters report here.

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