NATIONAL

India welcomes efforts by Iran to address nuclear issues

Diplomatic Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India has welcomed "progress" made by Iran to address "outstanding issues" about its nuclear programme following a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on implementation of safeguards by Teheran.

According to IAEA Director-General, Mohammad Elbaradei's report, the Agency had been able to interview individuals involved in procurement and who were previously not made available. "It (the report) refers to additional documents being made available to the Agency in a variety of areas. It appreciates access being given to sites of interest. Iran's approach has been described as more forthcoming," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

"We welcome the progress made in regard to various outstanding issues by Iran and see this as a vindication of our stand, expressed on September 24, 2005, advocating that more time be given to enable us to reach a satisfactory resolution of outstanding issues," the Ministry said, justifying its anti-Iran vote.

Resolve outstanding issues

Pointing out that the Director-General's report wanted additional assurances and more documents and access, the Ministry said: "We trust that Iran will continue to extend necessary cooperation to the IAEA to enable the Agency to resolve outstanding issues. This will contribute to the success of ongoing diplomatic efforts and India believes it is important for all concerned to avoid actions that may undermine these efforts."

The additional documentation and information already made available would shed greater light on clandestine activities of "foreign intermediaries", in particular Pakistan-based Abdul Qadeer Khan, which was of utmost concern to India as this had "seriously affected" the country's national security.

"Greater clarity and transparency in this area is very much in India's interest. We believe that the principled position that we have taken on focusing on the sources as well as the recipients of clandestine (nuclear) proliferation has contributed to this development," the statement claimed.

The IAEA report comes days ahead of a scheduled meeting of the Agency's governing board on November 24 in Vienna, where the Iranian issue is expected to come up for discussion once again.