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The latest diplomatic gaffe of David Mulford, US Ambassador to India, wherein he asked India to refer Iran to the UN Security Council else lose the nuclear deal signed last year, has produced at least one result which should please him. He wanted India’s decision on supporting the US position on Iran to be influenced by the United States, and he will get his wish. Now the question is no longer whether India supports Iran over the issue but whether Indian policy decisions are made for them by the United States.
Mulford has put India in a position where it has to assert its sovereignty and the whole IAEA debate has explicitly shifted from Indo-Iran to Indo-US. In earlier votes, the Indian Government went to great lengths to decouple their nuclear deal with the US from the Iranian nuclear situation. David Mulford has now coupled the two issues with his diplomatic seal. Even those who supported India’s earlier vote against Iran will now be likely oppose it just because they don’t like the idea of the US dictating Indian policy, not because it has to do with issues like the nuclear Wal-Mart of Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan, or Iran trying to build nuclear bombs, etc. If the Indian government shows some spine and votes for Iran then America has no one but Mulford to blame.
If on the other hand, India votes against Iran as per the US directive, then it will make a mockery of itself. This action will present India as a country which is incapable of making its own decisions yet thinks it can tell other countries how they should behave. It will also create the perception of a precedent for continued American dictation of Indian decisions in the future under the pretext of one deal or other.
There is only one way left for India to take this decision on merit, and that is possible only after the expulsion of Mulford. It does not matter whether America recalls him or India expels him, his removal is the only way to salvage the situation.
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