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India being dragged into Iran N-case

By By Anand K Sahay in New Delhi
September 12, 2005 09:30 IST
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If Congressman Tom Lantos' insulting language against the Indian external affairs minister was not bad enough, his skipping the facts of the matter in the Iranian nuclear case, into which India has been needlessly dragged by motivated sections in America, was appalling.

Most pertinently, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on International Relations overlooked the fact that Natwar Singh visited Tehran early in September in consultation with European Union-3, ie Britain, Germany and  France, which had been seeking to persuade the Iranians on sticking to their Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments.

The trip was certainly not undertaken to wink at the Iranians.

The US administration, as might be expected, were fully aware, knowledgeable sources suggest. They might have done Lantos a favour if they had  appropriately briefed him, considering his position. In any event, Ronen Sen, the Indian ambassador in Washington, has dealt with the blundering Congressmen adequately.

More to the point, India is understood to have been upfront about informing  the US -- since the ruckus in the House Committee on Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation -- that while it had never aided or abetted Iran's nuclear ambitions (the guilty party here is Pakistan) and indeed continually advised Tehran to honour its NPT commitments, New Delhi was bound to heed other realities.

Iran is a neighbour with which India has wide-ranging ties that include  energy cooperation, access to Central Asia, and cultural affinity extending way back in time.

Nevertheless, the moot question is: Which way is India likely to turn, should the US lean on it to support, referring Iranian nuclear activities to the Security Council?

The answer, sources observe, really lies in the tenor of the discussion in the International Atomic Energy Agency Board on September 19. If the board decides on a Security Council referral, the Indian position -- like that of  several key countries -- is likely to be guided by the language of the resolution and who its movers might be.

Many countries could be wary if the US chooses to move the resolution, given its record in the Iraq case when Colin Powell, secretary of state then, was hoodwinked into tendering false information on Waepons of Mass Destruction to the Security Council. 

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By Anand K Sahay in New Delhi