M A I N   N E W S

Vote on Iran in national interest, says PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
In a strong defence of India’s vote at the IAEA, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured both Houses of Parliament that his government’s stand was based on “objectives of upholding Iran’s rights and obligations” and country’s “security concerns arising from proliferation”.

Seeking restraint and flexibility on the Iran nuclear issue, the Prime Minister said India would support diplomatic efforts in the run up to the IAEA meeting in March to reach an amicable solution.

Making a suo motu statement on Iran in Parliament, Dr Singh said such a ‘sensitive issue’ involving the rights and international obligations of a sovereign nation could only be addressed through “calm, reasoned diplomacy and the willingness on all sides to eschew confrontation and seek acceptable compromise solutions”.

In the same breath, he also said that India was committed to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and that it’s vote against Tehran at the International Atomic Energy Agency would not upset bilateral ties. “We value this relationship and intend to do what we can to nurture our bilateral ties. Let me reiterate in this context that we are committed to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India has pipeline,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the project was currently under the ‘professional investigation’ by internationally reputed consultants. “This is a necessary step in taking the pipeline project forward,” he said.

Earlier in the Lok Sabha, the Left parties, which have castigated government’s decision to vote against Iran at the IAEA meeting earlier this month, and the Samajwadi Party demanded immediate discussion on the issue.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said this was not possible since the motion of thanks to the President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament had to be taken up first. He said a structured discussion could be held later.

In his three-page statement, the Prime Minister said India was ‘deeply concerned’ over the ‘escalating rhetoric and growing tensions’ and the possibility of a ‘confrontation’ on this issue.

“This is a matter of concern for us as tensions in this region — where our vital political, economic and security interests are involved — affects us directly. The region hosts 3.5 million Indian citizens whose welfare is a major concern of my government,” he said.

“We, therefore, call upon all concerned to exercise restraint, demonstrate flexibility and continue with dialogue, to reach an amicable solution,” Dr Singh said.

Noting that at the March meeting of the IAEA Board a full and regular report would be presented by the Director General, he said “in the days to come, we will support diplomatic efforts in this regard, drawing upon our friendly relations with all the key countries involved”.

He said Iran had the ‘legal right’ to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international commitments and obligations.

The Prime Minister, however, made it clear that “it is incumbent upon Iran to exercise these rights in the context of safeguards that it has voluntarily accepted upon its nuclear programme under the IAEA”.

Dr Singh said’ “India’s vote on the IAEA resolution does not, in an way, detract from the traditionally close and friendly relations we are privileged to enjoy with Iran”.

The Prime Minister said successive reports of IAEA had noted that while Iran’s cooperation has resulted in clarifying a number of questions, there remain many unresolved questions on key issues.

These include the use of centrifuges imported from third countries, and designs relating to fabrication of metallic hemispheres.

He contended that the “source of such clandestine proliferation of sensitive technologies lies in our own neighbourhood, details of which have emerged from successive IAEA reports.”


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