The reality remains that India and Iran have a flimsy relationship, which the Congress Party has attempted to spin for the benefit of its Left allies and Muslim voters, who continue to deride India's two votes in the IAEA against Iran.

151154 4/24/2008 12:12 08NEWDELHI1134 Embassy New Delhi SECRET//NOFORN 08NEWDELHI1134 "VZCZCXRO6893OO RUEHBC RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPWDE RUEHNE #1134/01 1151212ZNY SSSSS ZZHO 241212Z APR 08FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1433INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVERUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVERUCNNSG/NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP COLLECTIVERUEAIIA/CIA WASHDCRHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DCRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDCRHEHNSC/NSC WASHDCRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDCRUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1455RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 6312" "S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 001134

SIPDIS

NOFORN SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2018 TAGS: PREL, PARM, TSPL, KNNP, ETTC, ENRG, TRGY, IN, IR

SUBJECT: INDIAN IRAN RETORT MIGHT LAY GROUNDWORK FOR NUCLEAR MOVEMENT

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Steven White for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)

1. (C/NF) Summary: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee echoed April 23 the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman's strong and unhelpful reaction to the U.S. statement on India's relationship with Iran. While the Communists expressed their approval for the MEA statement, Left leaders also demanded April 23 that the government summon the U.S. Ambassador to protest against the ""unsolicited advice."" Mukherjee also told reporters that the government would call for a ""sense of the house"" in Parliament on the nuclear issue prior to seeking U.S. ratification of the agreement. The intensified high-profile stance on Iran, Iran President Ahmadinejad's visit, and Mukherjee's promise to give Parliament a say in the nuclear initiative could possibly lay the groundwork for the Left to allow the UPA government to submit the safeguards agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors during the next UPA-Left committee meeting scheduled May 6. As usual, the Indian government is stroking its Left and Muslim constituencies with cheap rhetoric and empty gestures prior -- we hope -- to solid forward movement with the U.S. Embassy will continue to protect MEA's overreaction to Tom Casey's statement, and will arrange a briefing to Indian government leaders that may influence the message they deliver to President Ahmadinejad. End Summary.

- - - Mukherjee Elaborates on India's Iran Stance - - -

2. (SBU) During an April 23 interaction with reporters, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stated that Indian officials would discuss the nuclear issue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visits Delhi April 29, but advised the U.S. to back off. ""We are advising Iran that since it is a signatory of NPT, it has some obligation to international treaties,"" he stated. ""We tell the U.S., do not take on yourself the responsibility whether Iran was manufacturing weapons or not. Leave it to the IAEA, the designated authority,"" Mukherjee continued. He elaborated that the IAEA must ""convince themselves whether (Tehran's program) is peaceful."" Asked to respond to spokesperson Tom Casey's April 21 remarks, Mukherjee referred the media to the Ministry of External Affair's (MEA) statement issued April 22, which he described as ""correct.""

3. (SBU) In response to Casey's statement, the MEA had declared April 22 that Iran and India ""are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention."" The MEA dismissed the encouragement by the U.S. to urge Ahmadinejad to meet the requirements set by the UN Security Council. ""Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations as both believe that engagement and dialogue alone lead to peace,"" he said, and stressed that the two countries enjoy ties that date back to ancient civilizations.

- - - MEA Statement Reveals MEA Split on U.S. and Iran - - -

4. (C) PolCouns protested to MEA Joint Secretary (Americas) Gaitri Kumar April 22 MEA's sharp statement, especially after Kumar had earlier shared with PolCouns an anodyne draft statement that reiterated standard Indian talking points on Iran. Kumar related that India's growing relationship with the U.S. has split MEA into two camps, and a member of the group that opposes any progress in U.S.-India relations rewrote the MEA statement. She remarked that Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon was furious about the result when SIPDIS he returned from Beijing earlier that day. Although PolCouns pressed, Kumar would not reveal who approved the re-worked public statement.

5. (C) Charge met April 24 with Additional Secretary (International Organizations) Vivek Katju, and brought up the Iran issue. Katju had no substantive response.

- - - Left Welcomes Tough MEA Statement But Wants More NEW DELHI 00001134 002 OF 003 - - -

6. (SBU) Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) Politburo member Brinda Karat raised the ""unsolicited advice"" from the U.S. April 23 during the Question Hour in Parliament's Rajya Sabha (upper house). ""Though the External Affairs Ministry has denounced the U.S. statement, it was not enough. The U.S. Ambassador should be summoned and India should register its strong displeasure on the issue,"" she demanded. ""The U.S. has been telling India to cooperate with it on the Iranian nuclear issue. This clearly proves that the U.S. considers India its junior partner. The U.S. cannot guide us on our foreign policy matters,"" she argued. Karat's Left colleagues and members of parties associated with the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), the loose grouping of regional parties not associated with either the Congress or BJP, supported her denunciation. While CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said that he appreciated the MEA's rebuff, he also called in Parliament for the government to summon the U.S. Ambassador ""over the interference from the self-appointed world policeman.""

7. (SBU) Elements of the Congress Party also expressed their approval of Ahmadinejad's visit. Deputy Home Minister Shakeel Ahmed, known as a close associate of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi's advisor Ahmed Patel, told The Telegraph April 23 that ""we think India and Iran are two mature states...and can discuss things among themselves.""

- - - Mukherjee To Take the Nuclear Deal to Parliament - - -

8. (SBU) Mukherjee also announced April 23 that the UPA government will seek a ""sense of the House"" before completing the nuclear initiative. ""Before we go for its ratification in the American Parliament, we will come to Parliament to take the sense of the House even though there is no provision in the Constitution that stands in our way,"" he told reporters. ""If at that point of time, Parliament refuses to move the legislation, the international agreement will be of no use."" Mukherjee outlined that the government would seek the Parliament vote after obtaining IAEA Board approval of the safeguards agreement and an exception from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, but before ratification by the U.S. Congress. One commentator surmised that the legislation might come in the form of amendments to India's Atomic Energy Act that allow for private participation in India's nuclear sector.

9. (C) An Australian political officer expressed his concern about Mukherjee's formulation to poloff April 24. He worried that ""practical"" countries with strong nonproliferation interests, like Australia, Japan and Germany, would be reluctant to expend political capital to support an NSG exception if India has not demonstrated its own commitment. Why should NSG countries make the tough political decisions if the Indian government cannot, he wondered. Although he cautioned that he had not received guidance from Canberra, he admitted that his Ambassador, who has supported the nuclear initiative despite the Rudd government's misgivings, has serious questions about India's new sequencing.

- - - Comment: The UPA Lays the Groundwork for IAEA Submission - - -

10. (C) The visit by Ahmadinejad, sharp retorts to the anodyne U.S. statement, and the pledge to take the nuclear deal to Parliament could give the Left sufficient political cover to allow the UPA government to submit the safeguards agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors when they meet May 6 for the next UPA-Left committee meeting. Ahmadinejad's transit through Delhi will provide reassurance to the America-haters that India's foreign policy remains ""independent"" of the U.S. -- a message reinforced by the truculent MEA statement. Meanwhile, the promise of a ""sense of the House"" gives the Left the opportunity to veto the initiative further down the road, potentially allowing the UPA government to advance the deal one more inch forward. The UPA may have calculated that the later vote in Parliament NEW DELHI 00001134 003 OF 003 will help pressure NSG countries to draft a clean, non-controversial exception for India. If achieved, such simple NSG language would then put pressure on the Left to voice support in Parliament because China, among other NSG members, would have supported by consensus. The risk remains, however, that the Left may use domestic legislation to single out and ban nuclear cooperation with the U.S. specifically, but because such a move would irrevocably harm U.S.-India relations, we think that even the weak-willed Congress Party would resist such a move.

11. (C) While the MEA and Left remarks on Iran are egregious, they are likely mere tactics in the UPA's domestic political machinations. A sharp, public response by the U.S. will only inflame matters. The reality remains that India and Iran have a flimsy relationship, which the Congress Party has attempted to spin for the benefit of its Left allies and Muslim voters, who continue to deride India's two votes in the IAEA against Iran. If the Left finally allows the nuclear initiative to move forward May 6, the sound and fury over Iran might have a useful dimension.

12. (S/NF) Meanwhile, Embassy will register its protest of the MEA's offensive statement on Iran. We have offered a briefing to senior Indian officials on Iran's nuclear program, energy picture, domestic politics and relations with its neighbors that may shape their interaction with the visiting Iranian leader. That briefing is scheduled for April 27, two days before Ahmadinejad arrives in Delhi, and provides an opportunity to influence New Delhi's message to Tehran.

WHITE "

151154 4/24/2008 12:12 08NEWDELHI1134 Embassy New Delhi SECRET//NOFORN 08NEWDELHI1134 "VZCZCXRO6893OO RUEHBC RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPWDE RUEHNE #1134/01 1151212ZNY SSSSS ZZHO 241212Z APR 08FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1433INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVERUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVERUCNNSG/NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP COLLECTIVERUEAIIA/CIA WASHDCRHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DCRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDCRHEHNSC/NSC WASHDCRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDCRUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1455RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 6312" "S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 001134

SIPDIS

NOFORN SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2018 TAGS: PREL, PARM, TSPL, KNNP, ETTC, ENRG, TRGY, IN, IR

SUBJECT: INDIAN IRAN RETORT MIGHT LAY GROUNDWORK FOR NUCLEAR MOVEMENT

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Steven White for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)

1. (C/NF) Summary: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee echoed April 23 the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman's strong and unhelpful reaction to the U.S. statement on India's relationship with Iran. While the Communists expressed their approval for the MEA statement, Left leaders also demanded April 23 that the government summon the U.S. Ambassador to protest against the ""unsolicited advice."" Mukherjee also told reporters that the government would call for a ""sense of the house"" in Parliament on the nuclear issue prior to seeking U.S. ratification of the agreement. The intensified high-profile stance on Iran, Iran President Ahmadinejad's visit, and Mukherjee's promise to give Parliament a say in the nuclear initiative could possibly lay the groundwork for the Left to allow the UPA government to submit the safeguards agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors during the next UPA-Left committee meeting scheduled May 6. As usual, the Indian government is stroking its Left and Muslim constituencies with cheap rhetoric and empty gestures prior -- we hope -- to solid forward movement with the U.S. Embassy will continue to protect MEA's overreaction to Tom Casey's statement, and will arrange a briefing to Indian government leaders that may influence the message they deliver to President Ahmadinejad. End Summary.

- - - Mukherjee Elaborates on India's Iran Stance - - -

2. (SBU) During an April 23 interaction with reporters, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stated that Indian officials would discuss the nuclear issue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visits Delhi April 29, but advised the U.S. to back off. ""We are advising Iran that since it is a signatory of NPT, it has some obligation to international treaties,"" he stated. ""We tell the U.S., do not take on yourself the responsibility whether Iran was manufacturing weapons or not. Leave it to the IAEA, the designated authority,"" Mukherjee continued. He elaborated that the IAEA must ""convince themselves whether (Tehran's program) is peaceful."" Asked to respond to spokesperson Tom Casey's April 21 remarks, Mukherjee referred the media to the Ministry of External Affair's (MEA) statement issued April 22, which he described as ""correct.""

3. (SBU) In response to Casey's statement, the MEA had declared April 22 that Iran and India ""are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention."" The MEA dismissed the encouragement by the U.S. to urge Ahmadinejad to meet the requirements set by the UN Security Council. ""Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations as both believe that engagement and dialogue alone lead to peace,"" he said, and stressed that the two countries enjoy ties that date back to ancient civilizations.

- - - MEA Statement Reveals MEA Split on U.S. and Iran - - -

4. (C) PolCouns protested to MEA Joint Secretary (Americas) Gaitri Kumar April 22 MEA's sharp statement, especially after Kumar had earlier shared with PolCouns an anodyne draft statement that reiterated standard Indian talking points on Iran. Kumar related that India's growing relationship with the U.S. has split MEA into two camps, and a member of the group that opposes any progress in U.S.-India relations rewrote the MEA statement. She remarked that Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon was furious about the result when SIPDIS he returned from Beijing earlier that day. Although PolCouns pressed, Kumar would not reveal who approved the re-worked public statement.

5. (C) Charge met April 24 with Additional Secretary (International Organizations) Vivek Katju, and brought up the Iran issue. Katju had no substantive response.

- - - Left Welcomes Tough MEA Statement But Wants More NEW DELHI 00001134 002 OF 003 - - -

6. (SBU) Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) Politburo member Brinda Karat raised the ""unsolicited advice"" from the U.S. April 23 during the Question Hour in Parliament's Rajya Sabha (upper house). ""Though the External Affairs Ministry has denounced the U.S. statement, it was not enough. The U.S. Ambassador should be summoned and India should register its strong displeasure on the issue,"" she demanded. ""The U.S. has been telling India to cooperate with it on the Iranian nuclear issue. This clearly proves that the U.S. considers India its junior partner. The U.S. cannot guide us on our foreign policy matters,"" she argued. Karat's Left colleagues and members of parties associated with the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), the loose grouping of regional parties not associated with either the Congress or BJP, supported her denunciation. While CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said that he appreciated the MEA's rebuff, he also called in Parliament for the government to summon the U.S. Ambassador ""over the interference from the self-appointed world policeman.""

7. (SBU) Elements of the Congress Party also expressed their approval of Ahmadinejad's visit. Deputy Home Minister Shakeel Ahmed, known as a close associate of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi's advisor Ahmed Patel, told The Telegraph April 23 that ""we think India and Iran are two mature states...and can discuss things among themselves.""

- - - Mukherjee To Take the Nuclear Deal to Parliament - - -

8. (SBU) Mukherjee also announced April 23 that the UPA government will seek a ""sense of the House"" before completing the nuclear initiative. ""Before we go for its ratification in the American Parliament, we will come to Parliament to take the sense of the House even though there is no provision in the Constitution that stands in our way,"" he told reporters. ""If at that point of time, Parliament refuses to move the legislation, the international agreement will be of no use."" Mukherjee outlined that the government would seek the Parliament vote after obtaining IAEA Board approval of the safeguards agreement and an exception from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, but before ratification by the U.S. Congress. One commentator surmised that the legislation might come in the form of amendments to India's Atomic Energy Act that allow for private participation in India's nuclear sector.

9. (C) An Australian political officer expressed his concern about Mukherjee's formulation to poloff April 24. He worried that ""practical"" countries with strong nonproliferation interests, like Australia, Japan and Germany, would be reluctant to expend political capital to support an NSG exception if India has not demonstrated its own commitment. Why should NSG countries make the tough political decisions if the Indian government cannot, he wondered. Although he cautioned that he had not received guidance from Canberra, he admitted that his Ambassador, who has supported the nuclear initiative despite the Rudd government's misgivings, has serious questions about India's new sequencing.

- - - Comment: The UPA Lays the Groundwork for IAEA Submission - - -

10. (C) The visit by Ahmadinejad, sharp retorts to the anodyne U.S. statement, and the pledge to take the nuclear deal to Parliament could give the Left sufficient political cover to allow the UPA government to submit the safeguards agreement to the IAEA Board of Governors when they meet May 6 for the next UPA-Left committee meeting. Ahmadinejad's transit through Delhi will provide reassurance to the America-haters that India's foreign policy remains ""independent"" of the U.S. -- a message reinforced by the truculent MEA statement. Meanwhile, the promise of a ""sense of the House"" gives the Left the opportunity to veto the initiative further down the road, potentially allowing the UPA government to advance the deal one more inch forward. The UPA may have calculated that the later vote in Parliament NEW DELHI 00001134 003 OF 003 will help pressure NSG countries to draft a clean, non-controversial exception for India. If achieved, such simple NSG language would then put pressure on the Left to voice support in Parliament because China, among other NSG members, would have supported by consensus. The risk remains, however, that the Left may use domestic legislation to single out and ban nuclear cooperation with the U.S. specifically, but because such a move would irrevocably harm U.S.-India relations, we think that even the weak-willed Congress Party would resist such a move.

11. (C) While the MEA and Left remarks on Iran are egregious, they are likely mere tactics in the UPA's domestic political machinations. A sharp, public response by the U.S. will only inflame matters. The reality remains that India and Iran have a flimsy relationship, which the Congress Party has attempted to spin for the benefit of its Left allies and Muslim voters, who continue to deride India's two votes in the IAEA against Iran. If the Left finally allows the nuclear initiative to move forward May 6, the sound and fury over Iran might have a useful dimension.

12. (S/NF) Meanwhile, Embassy will register its protest of the MEA's offensive statement on Iran. We have offered a briefing to senior Indian officials on Iran's nuclear program, energy picture, domestic politics and relations with its neighbors that may shape their interaction with the visiting Iranian leader. That briefing is scheduled for April 27, two days before Ahmadinejad arrives in Delhi, and provides an opportunity to influence New Delhi's message to Tehran.

WHITE "

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