British tourist injured fleeing India sex attack

The attack comes just three months after thousands took to the streets in nationwide protests following the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi. The victim, a physiotherapy student died from internal injuries after being savagely assaulted by six men. One of her alleged attackers was found dead in his prison cell in New Delhi on Monday.

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The facade of an Indian hotel, where a British tourist reportedly jumped from in an attempt to escape a sexual assault,
A female British tourist was admitted to hospital after jumping through a hotel window yesterday over fears of a sex attack in the Indian city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, police said. The victim, who was not named but was in her early 30s, suffered leg injuries when she leapt from the first floor after two men tried to enter her room in the Hotel Agra Mahal at around 4:00 am. “She got frightened so she ran to the other end of the room and jumped out of the window,” Pawan Kumar, superintendent of police in Agra, told AFP.
Another officer who was with the victim in hospital said she had earlier rejected the hotel manager’s overtures offering a massage. He then returned with a second man and attempted to open the door to her room with a key, the officer said. Swaranjeet, deputy superintendent of police in Agra, who only uses one name, said that one person had been taken into custody on charges of harassment.

The victim had suffered a ligament fracture in one leg but her injuries were not serious, Swaranjeet told AFP. “But she is very scared and has cancelled her plans to keep travelling in India. She just wants to return home,” she added. A member of staff at the hotel, who would not give his full name, said the manager had merely tried to wake up the victim in time for an early morning train. “We don’t know what she thought but she jumped out of the window of her room,” said the staff member. Last week, a Danish tourist Judith Jensen has a long list of don’ts to help her feel safe during her holiday in India.

She won’t hail a taxi off the street, she won’t stay in an obscure hotel and she won’t go out after darkall decisions made in response to the growing reporting of sexual crime in the country. “I have read and heard so much about rape in India that now I feel this persistent sense of danger,” Jensen, 42 said as she walked through a popular market in downtown Delhi. The tourism ministry’s ubiquitous Incredible India marketing campaign has helped boost the number of foreign visitors over the past decade to around 6.6 million a year-albeit still way behind the likes of China and Malaysia. But that push is now hampered by a growing sense that India is simply not a safe destination, particularly for women.

The fatal gangrape of an Indian student in December shone a disturbing light on the levels of sexual violence and a series of subsequent attacks on foreigners have added to the sense of unease.

On Friday night, a Swiss tourist was gang-raped while on a cycling holiday in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Her husband was tied up by the gang who are also accused of stealing a laptop, a mobile phone and 10,000 rupees ($185). On the same night, a group of men in a city near Delhi briefly kidnapped an Indian male executive working for the French engineering giant Alstom.
Other incidents reported since the December bus gang-rape include that of a South Korean student who said she had been raped and drugged by the son of the owner of the hotel where she stayed during a holiday in January. A Chinese woman working in Gurgaon, a town bordering the Indian capital, was also reportedly raped by an acquaintance last month.
Indian officials say there is no need for alarm, pointing out that foreigners are victims of crime the world over and the vast majority of visitors experience no safety problems. But travel advice from a host of countries stresses the need for visitors to take care. An advisory from the Swiss foreign ministry, issued before Friday’s attack, urged men and women visiting India to travel in large groups and with guides. The US State Department’s website warns female travelers to “observe stringent security precautions” and “avoid travelling alone in hired taxis, especially at night”.
Britain’s foreign office updated its advisory for India last week, saying that “women travelers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men”. In a notorious case five years ago, 15-year-old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling was raped and left to die on a beach in the tourist resort of Goa.
Jensen, who stands out in an Indian crowd with her blonde hair, recalled how she spent a carefree week backpacking around southern India a decade ago. But now, travelling with her 10-year-old daughter, it is a different story with her husband texting her several times a day to check up on their safety. “There is no question that these stories will have an impact on foreign visitors,” she said. “Women will prefer to visit other places like Singapore or Bali or Thailand, where safety is not such a big concern.” At the Delhi office of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, executive director Gour Kanjilal said it was unfair to portray India as dangerou.

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IP gas pipeline and the US

Pakistan must realize now that it should reform its foreign policy by showing less dependence on the West. There must be a shift in our foreign policy towards the eastern blocs, which are emerging as potential economic alliances. Pakistan has many options of alignment available to it and being a sovereign state, it has a fundamental right to serve its national interests than foreign pragmatisms. Therefore, no country has the right to interfere into Pakistan’s internal affairs that are in the interests of the country and could mitigate economic sufferings of its people.
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Despite US opposition, the 
$ 7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline or the Peace Pipeline is going ahead as planned. The Peace Pipeline initially had three players — Pakistan, Iran, and India — but the latter decided to part from the project in 2009 to avail the US nuclear deal. The Peace Pipeline will help Pakistan end its growing energy crisis that has put its economic wellbeing at stake. Pakistan’s economy is operating below par, which is affecting productivity, causing declining exports, and widening the balance of payments deficit. The Peace Pipeline is a major step forward for Pakistan at a time when its textile and fertiliser sector are showing a decline in output. With long and unexpected power outages, the industrial sector is in peril, which is why the business community has shown feelings of joy and relief over the project.

Iran will soon complete constructing its end of the pipeline; however, the construction of the 780 kilometre section of the pipeline on the Pakistani side will cost Islamabad nearly $ 1.5 billion. Washington never accepted the Peace Pipeline project and had its reservations over the initiative. Even though Pakistan will overcome its energy needs with Iran’s support, the latter’s nuclear ambition compelled the US to oppose the project.

Pakistan is eager to complete the pipeline in due time. However, the US doubts if Pakistan can finance the project. Moreover, analysts believe that the US will impose sanctions on Pakistan for defying Washington’s directives and siding with a country having a nuclear plan that worries the west. In addition, Pakistan might face US sanctions as mentioned in the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act, which allows the US government to ban imports from any non-American company that makes an investment of more than $ 20 million a year in the Iranian oil and natural gas sector.

Even though the Peace Pipeline is expected to provide benefits to Pakistan, it also has an underlining political motive. Analysts view that Pakistan’s ruling party will use the gas pipeline project to amass votes and create a positive public image in the upcoming elections. People are wondering why the government went ahead with the project with only a few days left remaining before the dissolution of the assemblies. Even with a political motive in place, the Peace Pipeline will benefit the state and the credit goes to the president and his team for sealing the deal. Construction on the $ 1.5 billion pipeline is scheduled to be completed by December 2014. If the project goes according to plan, Iran will supply 21.5 million cubic metres of gas per day from its gas field in South Pars to Nawabshah. This will solve Pakistan’s energy crisis and revive industry that fell prey to power outages.

The US not only opposed the project but also suggested Pakistan an alternative pipeline route from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and to India. Iran andPakistan never accepted the replacement route. Furthermore, India’s presence in the project would have kept both Pakistan and India on the verge of a war-like situation, which would only destabilise the South Asian region. The Peace Pipeline will begin transporting gas to Pakistan from December 2014. However, with the project already marred with delays, the final deadline is yet to be decided.

Prior to the inauguration of the Peace Pipeline project, the US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland said, “If this deal is finalised for a proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline, it would raise serious concerns under our Iran Sanctions Act. We’ve made that absolutely clear to our Pakistani counterparts.”

The US may impose sanctions on Pakistan for engaging in business-related activities with Iran. According to the Congressional Research Report, Iran is prohibited from selling technology or equipment that aids its energy sector. In addition, Iran lacks the authorisation to conduct business dealings that involve gas or fuels of any type with any country.

Even with the US closely monitoring the proceedings of the Peace Pipeline, President Asif Ali Zardari is hopeful for the many advantages the gas pipeline will bring to Pakistan and views it as a win-win project for Iran and Pakistan. Addressing the gathering at the inauguration ceremony, the president said, “The completion of the pipeline is in the interest of peace, security, and progress of the two countries. It will consolidate the economic, political and security ties of the two nations.” Pakistan’s Foreign Office is repeatedly asserting that Pakistan will not face any opposition from the US and believes that the US will show more understanding on this issue. Only time will tell if Washington comprehends the causes that led Pakistan to go ahead with the Peace Pipeline.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad views the Peace Pipeline as a symbol of resistance against western domination. In the post-9/11 era, Pakistan became a major ally of the US in curbing extremism. However, the Peace Pipeline could put Pakistan in a heap of trouble. Pakistan cannot afford any aggressive diplomacy from the US at a time when foreign aid is crucial for its survival.
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By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The writer is a Karachi-based journalist who writes frequently on regional issues with focus on South Asia (Daily Times)

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5 admit gang-raping Swiss tourist in India

A 39-year-old woman and her husband were cycling across central India. On March 15, on their way to Agra, they set up a tent near a village en route, where they were attacked by about a dozen men who robbed them, raped the woman and brutally beat up the man.

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Swiss woman is escorted by policewomen for a medical examination
Five villagers have confessed to gang-raping a Swiss tourist in central India, police said yesterday, in an incident that has renewed focus on the rampant violence against women in the country. The woman was on a cycling holiday with her husband in the impoverished Madhya Pradesh state when six men attacked the couple on Friday night, sexually assaulting the woman in front of her husband and robbing the pair, police said. “We have detained five men and they have confessed to gang-raping the woman and attacking her husband,” local police official MS Dhodee told AFP. The five men, who eke out a living as small-scale farmers, have been arrested on charges of rape and robbery, Dhodee said.
Police are searching for a sixth man, who was also involved in the crime, he said. The alleged rapists live in a village near the forested area where the couple had stopped to camp for the night, while on a cycling trip to the popular tourist destination of Agra in northern India, Dhodee said. “They were passing by, noticed the couple putting up their tent and saw an opportunity to attack and rape the woman,” he said. Her husband was tied up during the attack. They also stole a laptop, a mobile phone and 10,000 rupees ($185) from the couple, which the police are trying to recover, added Dhodee.
  
After the attack, the rape victim, aged about 40, and her husband, reported to be around 30, stopped a motorcyclist who took them to the nearest police station, said SonntagsBlick, a Swiss German-language newspaper. She underwent a medical examination at a local hospital before leaving for the Indian capital Delhi, police said. “The victim and her husband have left for Delhi, since there was no need for her to stay in hospital here,” another local police official UC Shadangi told AFP. Shadangi said that police were in touch with Swiss embassy officials, who declined to comment to AFP about the case. The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern released a statement on Saturday expressing deep shock at the “tragic incident”. The couple arrived in Mumbai last month after visiting Iran and began a cycling holiday across India, making their way to Orchha, a popular foreign tourist haunt in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, Shadangi said.

The attack comes just three months after thousands took to the streets in nationwide protests following the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi. The victim, a physiotherapy student died from internal injuries after being savagely assaulted by six men. One of her alleged attackers was found dead in his prison cell in New Delhi on Monday.
Police suspect he hanged himself, but his family says he was murdered. The government has since opened an investigation into his death. India’s government is facing heavy pressure to step up efforts to protect women after the deadly gangrape in the capital last December. Under a new bill approved by India’s cabinet last week, rapists face a minimum 20- year jail term and the death penalty if the victim dies from injuries or is left in a persistent vegetative state.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, one woman is raped every 20 minutes.

But police estimate only four out of 10 rapes are reported, largely due to victims’ fear of being shamed by their families and communities.

Concern remains high in India over the safety and status of women and girls in the country of 1.2 billion. Rape is one aspect of a wide range of violence, including domestic assaults, against women in India that claims many thousands of lives each year, according to rights workers. The Congress-led government has been under heavy pressure to strengthen legal protection for India’s women following the December attack on the student who died from internal injuries after being savagely assaulted by six men.
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The peace pipeline

While looking at the key trade and geo-political patterns in the world, it is imperative that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline is eminently sensible, should be completed and made operational at all costs. Thus, trade between Pakistan and Iran should not be a cynical exercise mired in political opportunism but should bring the two economies and people closer.
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On Monday March 11, 2013, the presidents of Pakistan and Iran Mr Asif Ali Zardari and Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. The pipeline is also, sometimes, referred to as the Peace Pipeline. The idea for such a supply channel was originally suggested by Malik Aftab Ahmed Khan in his article titled “Persian Pipeline”, which was published by the Military College of Engineering in the mid-1950s. It was conceptualised by Nobel Prize-winning Indian academic Rajendra K Pachauri and Iran’s former deputy foreign minister Ali Shams Ardekani.

In 1994, negotiations for ‘Peace Pipeline’ commenced between Iran and Pakistan. India joined the talks in 1999. Initially, the plan was dubbed as Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, which was supposed to deliver Iranian gas to Pakistan and, onwards to India. However, India opted out of the project in 2009 citing dissatisfaction with the transit fee that Pakistan was demanding. There were also concerns about the security of the whole venture that traversed through hostile territory at several points. However, it is widely believed that India quit the project at the behest of the United States. Last year, a Chinese bank also abandoned the pipeline project out of fear that it might be subjected to international sanctions for dealing with Iran.

In late January, Iran and Pakistan jointly set up a company in order to build the Pakistani portion of the pipeline. Initially, the estimated time for completion of the Pakistani part was a little more than a year but according to recent Iranian media reports, it could take about two years.

The pipeline starts from Asalouyeh in Iran stretching 1,172 kilometres towards Pakistan. The 781 kms long pipeline on Pakistani side will travel through Balochistan where it will branch out towards Karachi. The main line will continue onward towards Multan and beyond. It will deliver 750 million cubic feet of gas on a daily basis. The cost of gas thus imported will be 14.53 dollars mmbtu. According to the terms of an agreement signed by Iran and Pakistan in 2010, if the latter fails to complete its side of the pipeline by 2014, it will be obligated to pay a daily penalty of a million dollars to Iran until the conduit is complete.

The Iranian side of the pipeline is almost complete. The Pakistani part of the project will cost around 1.5 billion dollars. Iran will loan one-third of this sum amounting to 500 million dollars out of which 250 million dollars will be paid directly to the construction firm responsible for laying 80 kms of pipeline inside Pakistan. The next tranche of 250 million dollars will help in laying the remaining 701 kms pipeline. This loan, alongwith a two percent interest plus LIBOR, will be repaid as a fraction of the price of gas. Pakistan will still need to raise sizeable funds in order to see the project through, a task that seems hurculean at the moment in the wake of considerably depleted foreign reserves and a hefty IMF repayment hovering over the head.

Pakistan is highly dependent on natural gas for domestic and commercial consumption as well as electricity generation. Moreover, natural gas also plays a very crucial role in transportation within the country. For years, Pakistan is desperately trying to cope with an acute energy shortage that has all but crippled the economy. Last month, the country suffered a nation-wide blackout that only served to further highlight its exponential energy woes.

The US is vehemently opposed to the project and assumes that the hasty progress of the Peace Pipeline is politically motivated since the energy issue, by all accounts, will play a pivotal role in this year’s general elections. The mandate of the present government will expire in a few days. The ruling party may be planning to use the Peace Pipeline as a gambit for securing votes since the public will perceive it as a practical step towards resolving the energy issue. Moreover, defying the US, or seeming to do so, is extremely popular in Pakistan whose overwhelming public opinion is anti-US despite being the recipient of enormous American aid.

The US has threatened Pakistan with sanctions if it builds the gas pipeline. However, it is more likely that sanctions will be imposed only after the actual delivery of gas starts. Pakistani companies buying gas from Iran may also face US restrictions. The State Department recently criticised Pakistan for wasting its limited resources on such projects. The US is concerned that the Peace Pipeline will enable Iran to evade international sanctions by selling a huge amount of its gas. This will, consequently, blunt US efforts to keep Iran under pressure over its nuclear activities.

In order to address Pakistan’s genuine energy concerns, the US has suggested the trans-Afghanistan pipeline for delivering gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan. The pipeline could be extended further to India. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, which will effectively bypass Iran, has been on the tables in Washington for several years but could not materialize despite Asian Development Bank’s backing due to the fragile security situation in Afghanistan. The TAPI proposal is, however, still alive and may transpire in the next five years.

Pakistan’s current annual oil import bill exceeds 12 billion dollars. The bulk of the imported furnace oil is used for generating electricity. Importing gas from Iran may prove helpful not only in managing the severe energy crisis but also reducing Pakistan’s import bills to a reasonable extent. However, it is also important to carefully examine the diplomatic costs of carrying on with a geo-politically significant project that is not favoured by the international community.
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By Atif Shamim Syed

The writer is an investment banker and a freelance columnist for various publications. He can be reached at syedatifshamim@hotmail.com

Daily Times

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Sustained clandestine operations to weaken Pakistan

By Asif Haroon Raja

When Indian military failed to browbeat Pakistan and turn it into a compliant state through its military standoff in 2002 and in 2009 coupled with covert operations, and each time had to withdraw humiliatingly, it was decided by conspirators that heavier dosage of character assassination of Pakistan’s institutions and its leadership was required to further weaken Pakistan from within. Seven years of sustained covert war and propaganda war based on lies and deceit unleashed collectively by intelligence agencies of USA, India, Israel, Britain and Afghanistan had made appreciable gains on the civilian front but had failed to crack the defiance and resilience of Pak armed forces. For the accomplishment of their sinister objectives the Army and the ISI had to be sufficiently weakened. Pak Army had to be embroiled in self-defeating war on terror more deeply while the ISI had to be cut to size.
Accordingly, all guns were trained on these two premier institutions to malign their image and reputation. It was propagated that the ISI had become a rogue organisation and must be reined in since it was out of control of civil government and was aiding the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Consistent pressure was exerted on NRO-cleansed civil leaders to civilianise ISI and to bring it under the control of Rehman Malik-led Interior Ministry. ISI was accused of patronising Lashkar-e-Taiba, allegedly involved in Mumbai attacks. The Army was also ridiculed that it was either linked with the militants or didn’t have the heart to confront them.
While India mounted relentless pressure on Pakistan by blaming that it was involved in Mumbai attacks, the US-NATO from the western end adopted an aggressive posture by insisting that it intended to operate inside FATA. Pakistan-specific Af-Pak policy was framed to convert Pak-Afghan border into a single battleground. Drone attacks against suspected targets in Waziristan were accelerated. Alarm bells of Pak nukes getting stolen by Taliban or by Taliban sympathisers working within nuclear installations were continuously ringed. The plot makers intensified propaganda war to build up a perception that Pakistan had become the most dangerous place on earth and its nukes were unsafe and posed a threat to world safety. Simultaneously, suicide attacks and group attacks by RAW-sponsored terrorists were stepped up in all major cities of Pakistan. Intense pressure was mounted to force Pakistan Army to launch military operation against militants’ strongest positions in Bajaur, Swat and in South Waziristan. It was assessed that the Army, for sure, will get irretrievably stuck in at least one of the well-fortified strongholds. It was hoped that multiple actions would create conducive conditions for Indian military to launch the limited war by close of 2009.
While Indian political leaders and Indian media kept the temperature bubbling by indulging in sabre rattling after Mumbai attacks and refusing to resume composite dialogue, India’s former army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor living in the world of fantasy kept the military temperature high by threatening to launch a limited attack under nuclear overhang. Without being provoked, he got so worked up that he made the whole world chuckle when he boasted that his army could bulldoze its way through the combined armies of China and Pakistan.
His composite battle groups deployed in isolation along the border got tired of idling and started doubting the wisdom of impractical and mythical Cold Start doctrine which didn’t make any sense. They dread the call for a sudden plunge into the mouths of hungry sharks lying in waiting. One wonders, if Kapoor was feeling so powerful, what stopped him or his successor Gen VK Singh from bailing out US-NATO troops caught up in quagmire of Afghanistan and in great distress by making minced meat of dreaded Taliban? This is least expected of a strategic partner deriving huge economic and military benefits from its patron USA without firing a shot and shedding a drop of blood in war on terror.
When Indian Army kept flaunting its flawed doctrine but could not launch its battle groups, RAW feeling upset launched a series of terrorist group attacks in Lahore and Rawalpindi starting March 2009 to give vent to its frustration. Ominous schemes worked out by Pakistan’s adversaries got a severe blow as a consequence to Pak Army gaining a decisive edge over militants after achieving outstanding successes in Bajaur, Swat and South Waziristan in quick succession. This development coupled with the security situation in Afghanistan getting out of control of occupation forces at the dawn of 2010 changed the whole complexion and put the schemers on the back foot.
It compelled the US to start leaning on Pakistan rather than on India. However, the US instead of finding an amicable solution to Afghan imbroglio through dialogue wants Pakistan to become a party to its gory plan of dividing the Taliban and crushing them piecemeal. While all non-Pashtun elements in Afghanistan are anti-Pakistan, the US wants Pakistan to sever its links with each and every faction of Afghan Pashtuns as well thereby giving India lasting advantage in Afghan affairs in the future.
Pakistan Army instead of getting weakened has become more robust, professional and is well led and has maintained its defensive and offensive balance. Its mettle in war on terror and UN missions has been widely acclaimed by the world. Gen Kayani proved his mental calibre at the largely attended meeting of NATO at Brussels. It was for the first time that a non-NATO officer had this privilege to address the august gathering and he deeply impressed them. For full one year he has been resisting the pressure of USA to mount an operation in North Waziristan which is laudable. The operation will be launched sometime in 2011 when it suits Pakistan’s interests and not US interests. The ISI is looked at with awe and envy. Single-handed it has successfully battled with world’s six most advanced intelligence agencies and has frustrated their designs.
In the recently held Cambrian Patrol exercise organised by British Army in Wales from 8-13 October, which is considered to be the world’s toughest exercise and in which teams from all over the world including USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia and India took part, the team of 35 FF stood first and won the gold medal. The exercise envisaged testing of leadership qualities, teamwork, physical fitness and endurance, map reading and completing the assigned tasks within the stipulated time. Three cheers to the winners who have made us all proud.
I had the privilege of serving in this excellent unit as first Adjutant on its raising in 1971 under dynamic Lt Col Akram Raja Shaheed who earned Hilal-e-Jurat in 1971 Indo-Pak war in the battle of Bara Pind in Sialkot sector based on citation written by Indian officers.
With the induction of AWACs, JF-17 jet fighters, new batch of F-16 CD model jets, the PAF is feeling much more confident. With balanced ratio of hard-hitting submarines and surface warships and improved early warning means and naval air arm, the navy too is in high spirits. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is intact and its wide arrays of guided missiles including cruise missiles are much superior to Indian missiles. Gen Shameem Wynne whom I know personally since he was my student in 1982 Staff Course is an excellent choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. He surely will further refurbish inter-services coordination and cooperation as well as upgrade missile and nuclear set up under competent Lt Gen Kidwai. The Strategic Force has become a force to reckon with and is well poised to act as the chief deterrent.

Nuclear Factor in International Relations and the “Iranian Problem”

The international politics is increasingly revolving around the nuclear theme. A meltdown of the regime set by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was absolutely predictable. Due to its discriminatory character, the Treaty could not prevent the “horizontal proliferation”, the process which turned Israel, India, Pakistan, N. Korea, and South Africa into nuclear-armed countries. There can be no universally acceptable explanation why some countries are entitled to possess nuclear weapons while others are not.

Asserting its global primacy, the US has dealt several severe blows to the non-proliferation regime.

The first blow was dealt by the US withdrawal from the 1972 missile defense treaty.

The second blow was the adoption of the new nuclear doctrine which set a lower threshold for the use of nuclear arsenals and practically gave them the role of battlefield weapon rather than means of deterrence. The Financial Times wrote recently that Obama’s disarmament initiatives are essentially a tactic of countering the Iranian propaganda. Calling for total nuclear disarmament, Washington has reinforced its positions in the intricate game of nuclear diplomacy played out in the UN. Pretending to believe in the possibility of full and global disarmament is an indispensable element of the Western hypocrisy.

The third blow was dealt to the non-proliferation regime by the US when Washington recognized India’s de facto status of a nuclear-armed country.

The fourth blow came as NATO and US declared the whole world a zone of their vital interests and increasingly started to rely on force in international politics. It is clear after Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq that for the countries regarded as rogue by Washington possessing nuclear arms is the only way of safeguarding themselves against “democratization” backed by cruise missiles and bombers. N. Korea, for example, faced notably fewer threats since withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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The international politics background at the moment is extremely unfavorable from the standpoint of coordinated anti-proliferation activity.

1. On the one hand, nuclear arsenals are a “superweapon” the use of which would entail catastrophic consequences. On the other, the “superweapon” can serve as a key instrument of pursuing national (or group and particular) interests. We are witnessing two colliding global tendencies as the nuclear disarmament is underway but countries increasingly employ nuclear arsenals to accomplish national objectives.

2. Due to the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system and to the global crisis which erupted in 2008 the US dollar – the main pillar of the US primacy – is sustained solely by the US military potential. The arrangement motivates other countries to become nuclear-armed powers.

3. The raise of Asia over the recent years makes the West worry about the possible mushrooming of nuclear armed countries. The West would be happy to go on exploiting underdeveloped countries and consuming the lion’s share of the world’s natural resources “unconventionally”, while securing its right to do so with the help of “conventional” warfare in show-like remotely operated and risk-free combat.

4. The widening “geopolitical gap” between the Muslim world and Israel makes the latter rely on its nuclear stockpile as the means of last resort in security affairs. The policy automatically renders the problems of denuclearizing Pakistan and ensuring non-proliferation in the Middle East unsolvable .

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The “Iranian problem” puts serious obstacles in the way of adopting an internationally coordinated horizontal non-proliferation program. Iran, a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory, is confronted with a kind of “guilt presumption”: it is forced to prove its innocence on various counts. Washington invokes the Iranian nuclear program to justify its support for Israel, and Israel cites Ahmadinejad’s militant rhetoric to exact the support from the US, indicating that it can attack Iran’s nuclear installations unilaterally.

Iran signed the Nuclear Non-pProliferation Treaty and – with certain limitations – hosted international inspections during which the IAEA discovered no evidence implicating the country. A rational interpretation of the situation should have prompted the West to focus on diplomatic leverage in dealing with Tehran and to make it cooperate in tightening control over the circulation of nuclear materials and know-how.

Instead, the West attempts to corner Iran and perpetually threatens it with sanctions, thus reinforcing the domestic positions of Iranian radicals.

The overall result is that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not work. The agreement is discriminatory, reeks of hypocrisy, and is overloaded with various exceptions from general rules. In the case of the Middle East, the US-British hypocrisy is shocking – to preserve peace it allegedly takes maintaining the nuclear hegemony of Israel, the country that refused to sign the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, and punishing Iran, the country which joined it. In likewise cases, comments are unnecessary.

Playing a risky game on the grand chessboard and meeting with no resistance from Russia, the US led the situation to a zugzwang, a situation where any move creates further problems.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Victor Kovalev

Corresponding member of Military Science Academy, Strategic Culture Foundationexpert

This article was published in International Affairs magazine