In defence of an independent foreign policy

A few days of sustained American pressure has led the Government to cave in, says Prakash Karat

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: A day after the Left parties registered a strong protest over the vote against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) held Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responsible for taking a major step affecting the country's independent policy and its status in the non-aligned movement.

"The UPA Government has taken a major step which adversely affects India's independent foreign policy and its status in the non-alignment movement. The Prime Minister is directly responsible for this state of affairs. The CPI (M) and the Left parties cannot countenance this new direction of foreign policy," CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said in an article in the latest edition of party organ People's Democracy.

He said that by the next Board meeting of the IAEA in November, the Government would have to undo the damage done and state clearly that the Iranian nuclear issue was not a fit case for referral to the U.N. Security Council.

Right to develop technology

Iran had the right to develop its nuclear technology within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and IAEA safeguards, Mr. Karat said and stressed that in order to make India adopt such a position, it was necessary for all the Left and democratic forces to mobilise the people in defence of an independent foreign policy.

Commenting on development, it said the Manmohan Singh Government had been thoroughly exposed in the case. Till the eve of the vote in the IAEA, India proclaimed that Iran should adhere to international obligations while affirming its right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Empty posturing

During External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh's visit to Teheran three weeks ago, it was declared that the Iran nuclear issue should be resolved within the framework of the IAEA. Further it was stated that within the IAEA, the issue should be decided on the basis of consensus. "All this has been proved to be just empty posturing. Just a few days of sustained American pressure has led the Government to cave in,'' the article said.

Recounting the sequence of events, Mr. Karat said all components of the Indian position were abandoned by voting for the resolution. Iran had been asked to stop enrichment of uranium and to halt construction of a research reactor using heavy water. This put paid to India's original stand that Iran, as a signatory of NPT, had the right to develop nuclear technology under safeguards. Second, the assertion that the questions arising about the Iran nuclear issue were "within the competence" of the U.N. Security Council, went against the declared stance that it should be dealt with, within the IAEA framework. Third, the adherence to consensus was given up when India lined up with the U.S. and the EU-3 to vote against Iran.

Appeasing U.S.

"There is no doubt whatsoever that the Manmohan Singh Government gave up its stand in order to appease the United States. The sustained barrage that India cannot expect to be a beneficiary of the nuclear agreement unless it meets the U.S. concerns about Iran has borne results.," the article said.

He said the false case of "weapons of mass destruction" built up against Iraq was now being repeated with Iran and by voting with the U.S., India was becoming party to another "infamous exercise in intimidation and coercion" against a country with which it had friendly relations and vital energy stakes.

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