M A I N   N E W S

India rubbishes US report on curbs

New Delhi, October 23
India today rubbished a report in the US media that Washington proposed to impose sanctions on Indian entities and a top official in the South Block told The Tribune that somebody in the US system was playing mischief to derail the growing Indo-US strategic ties.

The official asserted that the US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, during her day-long talks with Indian officials here on October 21 did not, even for once, talk of any more Indian scientists or entities on the verge of being blacklisted by Washington.

“These reports are factually incorrect. Somebody in the US system seems to be upset with rapid progress made by India and the USA on strategic partnership and is playing mischief. As the NSSP (Next Steps in Strategic Partnership) gathers steam, there are people in Washington who are out to use tactics to slow it down. Such people seem to be at work here,” a senior official said while talking to this correspondent on condition of anonymity.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a categoric statement, saying: “We have seen these press reports. With the launch of the NSSP we now have a forum for discussions on such issues between the two countries and it is in this forum that all cases of onward proliferation can be brought up by one or the other country. In the recently concluded meeting of the NSSP Implementation Group, there was no demand made on the Indian side for evidence in regard to the two entities sanctioned by the USA.

“In fact, the burden of action is on the USA as we have already pointed out to them that the decision in regard to these entities is based on faulty evidence and must be revoked. We are also not aware of plans to sanction three entities as mentioned in these press reports. If there had been any such plans, then the NSSP forum would have been the appropriate one to discuss these cases.”

The report in “The Washington Times”, carried by wire services yesterday, had quoted an unnamed “senior” US official as saying that the Bush administration will not only impose sanctions on two Indian scientists, but had approved additional curbs that could be imposed on New Delhi “in near future” in response to “other Indian transfers of weapons-related goods to Iran.”

South Block sources said during October 21 talks with Ms Rocca, the issue of the US sanctions on the two Indian scientists — Dr Y.S.R. Prasad and Dr Surender — came up ‘peripherally’.

The Indian side, led by Mr S. Jaishankar, Joint Secretary (America) in the MEA, categorically told the Americans that none of the two implicated scientists was involved in transferring any nuclear technology to Iran.

The Americans were told, once again, that Dr Prasad had been to Iran on an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assignment, Dr Surender had never set foot in Iran.

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