The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tehran faces flak, Delhi keeps mum

New Delhi, Sept. 13: Growing friendship with Iran did not stop India from stepping out of the US line of fire when Tehran received a strongly-worded resolution unanimously passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board in Vienna last night. The country was asked to come clean on its nuclear programme by October 31 or face tough action.

India, along with a dozen other developing countries, is on the 35-member IAEA board. The lack of voting by the board, however, saved India from taking the difficult decision of abstaining. “If the resolution was put to vote, we would have abstained. But it would still have been carried as the majority of the members were in favour of the resolution,” a foreign ministry official said. Officials in South Block admitted that the toughly-worded resolution demands much more from Iran than what it is obliged to do by being a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran is accused of pursuing a clandestine programme to build nuclear bombs. Although evidence gathered against it so far is not conclusive, contaminated uranium from its Natanz reactor has raised serious questions about Iran’s innocence.

Russia, which is helping Iran build nuclear plants at Bushehr, has been asked by the US and other world leaders not to supply nuclear fuel to Iran.

After reports of Iran’s clandestine nuclear programme came to light, it was asked to sign an additional protocol of the NPT, which would give inspectors free access for random checks at Iranian nuclear sites. But now what the IAEA has demanded of Tehran is to give inspectors “unrestricted” access to all areas they suspect of being linked to a nuclear programme.

India does not agree with the western lobby’s interpretation that the October 31 deadline for Iran to come clean on its nuclear programme is sacrosanct. “Another meeting of the IAEA board is coming up at the end of November. It is then that a final view will be taken on the extent Iran has cooperated,” a senior South Block official said.

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