Amit Baruah

India has consulted all key members of IAEA board of governors and Iran

Moscow proposed to Teheran that it enrich its uranium in Russia India urges "further intensive efforts" in that direction India emphasises Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear programme

NEW DELHI: Two days after the United States publicly advised India to vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), New Delhi welcomed "all initiatives," including from Russia, which could "enable a consensus" on the Iranian nuclear question and urged "further intensive efforts" in that direction.

Moscow, it may be recalled, had proposed to Teheran that it enrich its uranium in Russia and top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani recently discussed the suggestion with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov.

Avoid confrontation

In a statement, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday that in the past two weeks, India had consulted all key members of the IAEA board of governors and Teheran, in order to avoid confrontation and promote the widest possible consensus on handling the Iran nuclear issue.

Mutually acceptable

In all these consultations, India urged that the parties should work in the spirit of seeking a mutually acceptable solution; that Iran's right to develop a peaceful nuclear policy for its development, consistent with its international obligations and commitments, should be respected.

"Iran's willingness to work together with the IAEA to remove any outstanding issues about its nuclear programme should be welcomed. In this regard, the Agency should be allowed to proceed according to its work programme and submit a detailed report," the Ministry added.

Interestingly, the Ministry's statement contained no reference to Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran's comment on January 21 that India would prefer the Iranian nuclear issue to remain within the IAEA framework.

While Russia, China and other leading members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) had abstained from voting with the United States at the IAEA governing board meeting on September 24, 2005, India had voted against Iran, in line with the U.S. position.

While justifying its anti-Iran vote, the Ministry had said on September 24, 2005, "Our preference was to deal with the [Iran] issue within the IAEA itself. The EU-3 [France, Britain and Germany] agreed to take our concern on board. The resolution has kept consideration of the issue within the purview of the IAEA itself.