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Rice waves red rag to India on Iran vote
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
Barely 48 hours after US Ambassador in India, Mr David C Mulford, linked up the fate of the Indo-US nuclear deal to how New Delhi votes at the IAEA’s resolution in Vienna on February 2-3, it was today the turn of none other than Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice herself to wave the red rag to India on the Iran vote.

Ms Rice, in an interview to Reuters, today said India had “difficult choices” to make before the Indo-US deal could be completed, though she also insisted, “I think we’re making progress.” She said the nuclear agreement presented “a difficult set of issues” and remarked: “In order to move on to a new phase in which civil nuclear power would be available to India, India has to make some difficult choices.”

The Secretary of State did not elaborate on what she meant by “difficult choices” before India nor did she refer to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) emergency meeting in Vienna on February 2-3 where a resolution seeking reporting Iran to the United Nations Security Council is likely to be voted upon.

Nonetheless, she said: “But it’s very important to understand that in order to satisfy the concerns of the American Congress and our laws and the concerns of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, that there will have to be some steps taken to make sure that the proliferation risks are not enhanced by this deal.”

On its part, the Ministry of External Affairs today maintained that New Delhi had been engaged in active consultations with all key members of the IAEA Board of Governors and with Iran during the past two weeks in order to avoid confrontation and to promote the widest possible consensus on handling the Iran nuclear issue.

In all these consultations, India has urged:-

  • That all concerned countries should avoid confrontation and work in the spirit of seeking a mutually acceptable solution;
  • That Iran’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy for its development consistent with its international obligations and commitments should be respected;
  • Iran’s willingness to work together with the IAEA to remove any outstanding issues, about its nuclear programme should be welcomed. In this regard, the Agency should be allowed to proceed according to its work programme and submit a detailed report.

It may be recalled that the IAEA has rejected the US and EU3 (UK, France and Germany) request for presenting its technical report on Iran’s nuclear programme before February 2 meeting of the IAEA and said that this report would not be completed before March.

The MEA spokesperson, Mr Navtej Sarna, in response to a question, said India welcomed all initiatives, including from Russia, which could enable a consensus to be reached on the Iran issue and urged further intensive efforts in that direction.

The US Ambassador here, Mr Mulford, had on January 25 created a stir with his remarks in an interview to the PTI wherein he had linked up the implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal with India’s voting at the forthcoming IAEA meeting.

After this remark, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran called in Mr Mulford to convey to him that his remarks were inappropriate and not conducive to building a strong partnership between the two independent democracies. The Foreign Secretary informed the Ambassador that India’s vote on any possible resolution on the Iran nuclear issue at the IAEA would be determined by India’s own judgement of the merits of the case. 

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