American Jewish lobby dismayed by Indian ties with Iran

American Jewish Committee, the most powerful lobbying group in the US, has expressed dismay at the expanding Indian trade ties with Iran.

Referring to recent announcement by Commerce Secretary, Rahul Khullar that a "huge delegation" of India businesses are going to Iran soon, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), in a letter to Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao, said this reflects that New Delhi is taking economic advantage of the current situation.

"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," AJC president Robert Elman and its executive director, David Harris said in the letter.

AJC said it is particularly struck by the announcement this week, by Commerce Secretary 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.

"We were deeply troubled by recent news reports of Indian efforts to intensify trade relations with Iran at the very moment that Washington and fellow democracies are applying new economic pressures in the banking and energy sectors to persuade Tehran to halt its pursuit of nuclear-weapons capability," said the letter.

AJC, the letter noted, has been a long-time friend of India and an advocate of increasingly close cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.

In light of India's history of support for International Atomic Energy Agency resolutions on Iranian transgressions, and repeated expressions of Indian Government concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions, AJC said it is alarmed and dismayed by this apparent move to elevate commercial interests over vital security concerns.

"India has asserted that it will only abide by UN Security Council restrictions on trade with Iran, but not go beyond. Yet, as in the recent case of Syria, further measures are today impossible because of a threatened veto by one or two permanent members," AJC officials said.

"We fear that India risks not only the erosion of the latest steps laudably adopted in Washington, Brussels and elsewhere, but also its standing as an admired partner in safeguarding regional and global security," said AJC.

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