Israel is stepping up its pressure on India to join its crusade against the Iranian nuclear program, a policy that the New Delhi government is finding hard to accept, The Telegraph India wrote on Thursday.
In June, an Israeli delegation will travel to India to further stress Jerusalem’s assessment of Iran’s nuclear intentions and the importance it sees for India to accept Israel’s stance.
However, Indian officials are uncomfortable with Israel’s determined, and very public, diplomatic assault on Iran. As one of its biggest customers, India is dependent on Iran for its oil supply and is also sensitive about its own local Muslim population.
According to The Telegraph India, a joint Iranian-Indian oil and cargo shipping operation is also under threat. Israel wants the Shipping Corporation of India to pull out of the 49% stake it holds in the Irano Hind Shipping Company. The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines owns the remaining 51% of the company, which operates six ships between the two countries.
Israel is seeking to bring India to a position where, if not in agreement, it will at least remain a silent bystander should a military strike against Iran go ahead.
India is a growing customer for Israeli military equipment and trade is estimated at over $10 billion, twice that of the two countries’ civilian trade. However, Israeli officials are concerned that Iran may try to curry favor with India over its own substantial trade agreements.
In April during a trip to the subcontinent, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lobbied India to reduce oil imports from Iran. India, which has thus far refused to join sanctions against the Islamic Republic, has requested an exemption from joining an oil embargo on Tehran once sanctions take effect in July.
Earlier this month, India promised to cut oil imports by as much as 11 percent.