Indian Decade

India Probes Iranian “Plotters”

India has requested Iran’s cooperation as it seeks those allegedly involved in last month’s Israel bomb attack.

Mehdi Nabizadeh, Iran’s ambassador to India, has been called to the South Block headquarters of the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi and advised that three Iranians are being probed over their alleged role in the bomb blast that took place outside the Israeli Embassy last month. This is reportedly the first time India has officially conveyed the unpleasant details of its investigation to Tehran. Iran, for its part, has denied any involvement in the bomb attack, which took place the same week as attacks in Georgia and Bangkok.

Indian diplomats also informed the Iranian envoy that India has reached out to Interpol to request the issuance of so-called red corner notices for the trio, who have been identified as Houshan Afshar, Syed Ali Mehdi Sadr and Mohammad Reza Abolghasemi. Indian agencies have already issued arrest warrants against the three, and India has asked Iran for help in detaining the three.

The Press Trust of India, meanwhile, has reported that Indian authorities on Saturday issued an arrest warrant for Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, who was detained by Malaysia authorities last month in connection with the failed bomb attack in Bangkok.

It seems highly unlikely at this point that Tehran will comply with New Delhi’s requests, but the development has huge diplomatic symbolism. India has already voted twice against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and this latest news is set to further test ties at a time when India is under pressure from the United States to back pressure against Tehran over its nuclear program.

The Iranians are believed to have been helped by Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, an Indian journalist, who was arrested by Delhi Police on March 6. At a news conference on Friday, New Delhi Police Commissioner B. K. Gupta described the alleged plot, accusing Kazmi, “of providing logistical support for the February 13 blast, which injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat and three others.”

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The real significance of the case is the fact that India has officially approached Iran for cooperation in a terror case. The Indian government has consistently taken the position that Iran is a friendly neighbor, and one with which it values close ties. Certainly, Iran has been a key supplier of oil to fast-growing India, and supplies an estimated 12 percent of India's oil needs.

The situation has also been complicated by domestic considerations, with the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government coming under pressure from the Left parties to strengthen relations with Iran at the cost of ties with the United States. India has boldly refused to honor sanctions on Iran imposed by the 27-nation European Union, arguing that New Delhi only recognizes the United Nations with regard to country-specific sanctions.

The Iranian reaction to the Indian request is being keenly awaited among Indian officials, who will be keeping a close eye on what it says about the state of relations with Tehran.