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India Uses IAEA Vote To Foster Relations With US

Rajeev Sharma said India's voting in Vienna would pay rich dividends, as the western world was unsure of India's position given the tremendous pressure being mounted on the Indian government by its crucial Leftist allies.
by Kushal Jeena
New Delhi, India (UPI) Feb 06, 2006
India's vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency will pave the way for better Indo-U.S. relations and a smoother passage for the civilian nuclear energy deal, Indian analysts said Monday.

"It (voting) will definitely pave the way for better and strong relations between India and the United States and smooth passage of the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement," said senior analyst Rajeev Sharma.

Sharma said India's decision at the IAEA also acts as a positive prelude to U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to New Delhi in March.

He said India's voting in Vienna was on expected lines. "The surprise would have been if India had voted against the EU3 resolution. India has rightly gone with the majority view on Iran's nuclear program," Sharma said.

India was among the 27 members of the 35-strong IAEA governing board that voted in favor of a resolution reporting Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council at the crucial meeting of the international watchdog in Vienna on Saturday.

"Several amendments suggested by the non-aligned countries were accepted by the European Union co-sponsors," said Navtej Sarna, Indian foreign ministry spokesman.

He said the resolution moved in favor of reporting Iran to the U.N. Security Council was "well-balanced."

"While there will be a report to the Security Council, Iran's nuclear issue remains within the purview of the IAEA," Sarna said.

India had hinted that it would vote in favor of the resolution despite strong opposition from the opposition parties back home.

New Delhi also maintained, however, that the issue should be resolved through diplomacy.

India made its position clear on the issue after Russia and Iran favored the resolution on the condition that action should not be taken against Iran till March when IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei submits his report.

"India's position has been that the confrontation should be avoided and any outstanding issue ought to be resolved through dialogue," Sarna said.

The decision of the governing body of the IAEA to refer Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council speaks of the increasing international suspicion over Tehran's nuclear activities.

A change in the stand taken by Russia and China this time demonstrates that India, along with these two major powers, is moving carefully and with determination to corral Iran.

The non-aligned movement, of which India is a major partner, was also divided on the issue.

The almost defunct movement was split in three, with one group voting against the resolution, a second that abstained and third -- including India -- that voted for the resolution.

"India went with the majority view in the non-aligned movement that Iran should be reported to the U.N.," said Sharma.

He said India's voting in Vienna would pay rich dividends, as the western world was unsure of India's position given the tremendous pressure being mounted on the Indian government by its crucial Leftist allies.

Indian Leftists warned the federal coalition government against voting in favor of the EU3 resolution. They stuck to their position despite detailed explanations from the government.

They stepped up opposition even after the vote, charging the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government of toeing the U.S. line.

The leaders of the four Indian Left parties, who met a day after the vote, demanded a discussion on India's stance at the IAEA in the budget session of Parliament.

"We are confident that when the matter is discussed objectively and dispassionately in Parliament, the government will listen and take a decision ahead of the March 2 meeting of the IAEA," said Prakash Karat, general secretary of India's biggest communist group, the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Karat said India should neither to be a party to any referral to the U.N. nor countenance any recommendation for taking action through the Security Council.

The opposition right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party also sought an explanation from the government on the issue.

"We would like the government to explain as to what prompted it to support the EU3 sponsored resolution on Iran's nuclear program," said party parliamentary spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra.

The ruling Congress party is happy with the stand taken by the government, saying it shows the determination of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to implement the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear deal.

"It (Indian voting) would certainly go a long way in clearing hurdles coming in the way of the implementation of the nuke deal. It will also make the U.S. understand better the political compulsion of the Indian government," said Tom Vaddakan, secretary in the Congress media department.

Prime Minister Singh and President Bush signed a civilian nuclear energy agreement on July 18, 2005 in Washington.

Under the deal, the United States agreed to supply nuclear energy to India on the condition that it would separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities.

A serious discussion is currently going on in India about the nuclear separation. Even the head of the Indian atomic energy department, Anil Kakodkar, is opposed to putting the fast breeder reactor program on the civilian nuclear list.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns held two rounds of talks on the matter ahead of Bush's India visit.

The two sides are keen to begin the implementation of the deal during President Bush's visit in early March.

Source: United Press International

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