Submitted at the UPA-Left Parties Coordination Committee Meeting
on 27 October 2005
The Left parties have expressed their deep concern and dismay over India’s vote at the IAEA in Vienna on September 24, 2005.
We consider that the UPA government acted in this regard under American pressure. It is alarming that a threshold of vulnerability has arisen for the country’s foreign policy orientations in the period since the signing of the India-U.S. defence and nuclear agreements in June and July respectively.
The IAEA vote signifies a departure from the government’s commitment to follow “an independent foreign policy”. This is a matter of utmost concern.
India’s vote at the IAEA on 24/9 was unjustifiable for the following reasons:
(a) Iran’s principled position:
i) Iran has essentially brought to the fore the dormant issue of the discriminatory regime within the NPT following the U.S’s arbitrary decision in 1978 to distinguish between nuclear non-weapon states that can have a complete nuclear cycle and those that can have only a truncated cycle. India always held that the NPT’s discriminatory regime was unacceptable.
ii) The IAEA investigations are continuing. There has been no finding that Iran is “weaponising”.
iii) The impasse in the talks between EU-3 and Iran resulted from Iran’s non-acceptance, as a self-respecting country, of the EU conditionalities.
iv) The Additional Protocol is a voluntary measure by Iran. It is not enforceable by the international community.
v) Iran has reiterated at the highest level that it does not aspire to acquire nuclear capability. The international community cannot disregard such a solemn assurance.
(b) The IAEA resolution:
i) The resolution can be precedent setting – indicative of a U.S. move to redefine the scope of the NPT without having to formally amend the treaty. Second, Iran has been singled out.
ii) There is no basis for such a resolution since the IAEA documents do not indicate that it is in a position to draw any conclusion that Iran is “weaponising”.
iii) The resolution was harsh and iniquitous. A referral to the UN Security Council under XIII.B.4 of the IAEA Charter (as envisaged under the resolution) is simply incomprehensible, as the IAEA has not found Iran guilty.
iv) India’s explanatory note at the Vienna meeting was contradictory.
Successive governments in India during the past quarter century withstood American pressure and fostered relations with Iran. Friendship with Iran must remain a cornerstone of India’s neighbourhood policy. Iran can be a strategic partner for ensuring India’s energy security. Iran has reciprocated India’s friendship by taking helpful positions in the Organisation of Islamic Conference, by strictly refraining from interfering in India’s internal affairs, and lately, by granting favourable decisions for Indian business in Iran’s oil and gas sector. Indeed, India and Iran have shared interests and concerns such as the struggle against terrorism and religious extremism, and development of communication links aimed at providing access routes for India to Russia, Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Despite regular high level exchanges and mutual understanding, regrettably, India did not take Iran into confidence. India consistently assured Iran that the issue had to be settled within the IAEA and that Iran had a right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme.
The climate of mutual trust in India-Iran relations must be sustained. Any negative fallout on the gas pipeline project or the LNG supplies would have serious implications for India’s energy security.
Iran-U.S. relations have a chequered history. The U.S. hostility toward Iran is deep-rooted in a struggle for regional influence in the Gulf and the Middle East, in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The current tensions have to be viewed in their geopolitical perspective. Their resolution reflects on the efficacy of “multilateralism”.
Senior U.S. public figures have gloated over the Indian vote against Iran as an “abject example”. Conceivably, one American objective has been fulfilled on the world stage. The U.S. ‘triumphalism’ has been extremely damaging to India’s global standing.
The implicit linkage that American conduct has suggested between our nuclear deal with the U.S. and our stand on regional and international issues is completely unacceptable. We must reject such linkage forcefully and unequivocally.
Equally so, it is a sad day when India finds itself cut adrift from the non-aligned countries as has happened in Vienna.
India should not repeat its mistake. If the issue indeed comes up for voting at the IAEA’s meeting on November 24, India should stick to its principled position that:
i) The matter should be resolved through negotiations;
ii) Iran has the right to have a peaceful nuclear programme;
iii) Iran must abide by its treaty obligations;
iv) Possibilities exist for settling the issue within the framework of Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA.
India should actively coordinate its stance with Russia, China and the non-aligned countries, as their positions are close or similar.
Diplomatic efforts are intensifying to find a face-saving formula. An IAEA team is in Iran. Russia is taking fresh initiatives. This provides India with the opportunity to play a constructive role optimally sourcing its influence and prestige as a responsible power, rather than be seen as coerced into making choices. IAEA decisions are traditionally consensual. If consensus is lacking, India should abstain.