India could be key mediator between Iran and West
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For Iran, India's vote could signal a long-term strategic shift in policy, where New Delhi would ally with Washington over Iran in these ongoing confrontations. This possibility could be deeply disturbing to Tehran if it was hoping that India would become a strategic partner. Needless to say, Singh has told deputies that "confrontation should be avoided at all costs." He added that, "for this to be possible, time must be given for diplomacy to work. Confrontation is not in the interest of India or of our region." In es- sence, India is taking a middle-of-the-road approach, attempting to placate both the East and West, the former for domestic reasons and the latter for international reasons. As a result, India could be the decisive bargaining chip between Iran and the United States, with both states competing for New Delhi's affirmative support. Essentially, though, if New Delhi is to remain a leader of the NAM, India cannot support any sanctions policy without appearing hypocritical. Because it is not a permanent member of the Security Council, however, it may not be forced to make a decision. The most likely option in the wake of its pending nuclear deal with the United States is to support U.S. policy tacitly while subtly maintaining relations with Iran.
India has growing economic ties with Iran and is investing heavily in its energy sector to provide a reliable source of fuel for India's growing economy. Strategically, while being careful not to upset its relations with the U.S. or the West, India also looks to Iran as a potential balance against Pakistan.