A Week After New Delhi Attacks, India Tries to Play Down Iran Link

Indian pundits, officials say the country leadership is trying to save its energy ties with Iran, while making sure not to upset its strategic alliance with Israel.

Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer
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Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer

A week after the terror attack in New Delhi, which seriously wounded Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of an Israeli diplomat, the Indian government is still trying to brush over the accumulating evidence that the attack was part of a wider Iranian effort to orchestrate multiple attacks on Israeli targets in different countries. To date, no Indian official has referred to Iran's involvement. Sources in New Delhi explain that the government is concerned that its close relationships with both Israel and Iran are becoming incompatible.

The investigation into the attack is being carried out by the New Delhi Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation, but not by the elite National Security Guard which has the main expertise in investigating bombings. Security sources cited "political and diplomatic reasons" for the government's preference to treat this as a local matter and not an international one. Police sources even leaked to the media that the bomber could have been a local Indian, despite there being little proof for this. Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath insisted that the attack was "an isolated incident."

A car belonging to the Israeli embassy following a bomb blast in New Delhi, India, Monday, Feb. 13, 2012Credit: AP

Members of the ruling Congress Party tried in media appearances to implicate agents of India's rival neighbor, Pakistan, in the attack, claiming that Pakistan was trying to harm India's relations with Iran.

The Indian media is treating is as a regular terrorist attack. Which means they are dependent on police and intel sources for most of the news, which, frankly is not much. But they have some details such as it was a motor cycle guy who planted the bomb etc.

Saikat Datta, a senior defense analyst in New Delhi says that "this is about the relations India shares with Israel and Iran. Our oil comes from Iran and they have always supported us on the Kashmir issue. But Israel is our strongest and staunchest strategic ally and there is a lot of good will towards the Israelis."

Despite the American and European sanctions on Iran, India has no plans to stop importing Iranian oil and the Indian media reported last week that there are plans to work around the restrictions on the Iran's central bank by paying for oil with wheat. Indian companies are rebuilding Iranian ports and a new railway to Afghanistan. Next month a high-level Indian delegation will be visiting Iran while the chief of staff of India's army, General V. K. Singh will be visiting Israel.

India is a major purchaser of Israeli weapons systems, including early-warning aircraft, radars and drones. The two countries cooperate closely on intelligence matters. But the New Delhi government is anxious not to emphasize these relations openly so as not to anger its large Muslim minority which includes 35 million Shias. But not only India is worried about its interests, Iran has the most to lose from a breakdown in relations, and if it indeed decided to jeopardize those ties and launch an attack an Indian soil, it must be extremely anxious to harm Israelis as soon as possible.



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