Israel's new ambassador Naor Gilon addresses the media in New Delhi

Naor Gilon says Israel perceived Iran as a 'real threat'

“Cooperation is never against something, it is always for something,” said Naor Gilon, Israel's new ambassador to New Delhi, at his first interaction with the media. Gilon, who presented his credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday, was speaking about the formation of the new Quad, with the US, India, Israel and the UAE as the four members.

Anti-Iran sentiments are a common factor binding the US, Israel and the UAE. The US walked out of the Iran civil nuclear deal during Donald Trump's presidency, and incumbent Joe Biden has kept that status quo.

Gilon noted that Israel perceived Iran as a “real threat” with its nuclear capability and extremist ideology. He said they took threats seriously.

The UAE has become friendlier with Iran of late, but there is tension between the two nations.

India, however, has strong multilateral ties with Iran. The Chabahar port in Iran developed largely by India is an important infrastructural project for both countries to access not just Afghanistan but also the markets of Central Asia. It is envisaged as part of the grand International North South Transit Corridor.

Under US pressure during the Trump regime, India was compelled to stop imports of crude oil from Iran, and this has already caused stress in ties. This was reflected in Tehran slowly easing India out of infrastructural projects, whether it was the rail line from Chabahar to Zahedan or a stake in the Farzad-B gas field, which was discovered by India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

Will This New Quad Cause Further Strains?

According to Gilon, at the first ministerial meet of the new grouping, each country put forward its issues and concerns and India brought its ties with Iran to the discussion.

Gilon, however, said that there was much synergy between the four countries in how they viewed global events and that this grouping was looking at using this synergy for economic and infrastructural development.

He said that the plan being worked out was to facilitate company-to-company cooperation in these areas, rather than at the government-to-government level.

India and Israeli military are participating in the Blue Flag exercise in Israel, where the UAE is an observer but has also sent its soldiers to exercise with the other two.

Is there a possibility that this grouping could get militarised in the future? “We do not exclude any cooperation with India and the UAE,” said Gilon, unwilling to add anything further.

India is largely the reason that the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—involving the US, Japan and Australia—is not militarised, and instead focuses on infrastructure development, security, health, climate change and a host of other issues.

The annual naval exercise called Malabar, however, has virtually became a Quad exercise since 2020.