|We cannot afford to be complacent (on the economy). We are seeing new competitors like China and India. This creates uncertainty…
— George W. Bush
Miami, Feb. 1: Barring dramatic or unexpected developments in New Delhi in the next 24 hours, India will vote with the US, Russia, China and the major European powers on an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution reporting Iran’s nuclear programme to the UN Security Council.
Sources in Vienna and New York told The Telegraph today that India’s difficult choice on the vote at the IAEA board of governors has been made easier by a consensus on Monday night among the permanent members of the UN Security Council to “report” Iran to the council this week and not “refer” Tehran’s nuclear programme to the UN’s most powerful body.
Diplomats at the UN said Russia and China had persuaded the three other permanent members of the Security Council ' the US, France and Britain ' plus Germany at their meeting in London on Monday to tone down a hawkish approach on Iran and agree on the framework of a watered-down resolution at the IAEA, when its board meets in Vienna tomorrow.
Because Iran will now be “reported” to the Security Council, the council will merely listen to what the IAEA has to say on Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Diplomats in New York said the council may issue a statement by its president, reflecting the concern among its members about the nature of the Iranian programme. At the most, it may adopt a resolution reflecting this concern.
According to a compromise, which brought Russia and China in line with the other permanent members of the council, even this may not happen until after March 6, when the IAEA’s board is to receive a comprehensive report on Iran from the organisation’s director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei.
On the other hand, if the IAEA had “referred” the Iranian nuclear programme to the council as the Bush administration and the major European powers wanted, Tehran could have been subjected to UN sanctions.
A “referral” would have taken Iran out of the IAEA’s hands and placed its fate with the council. The “reporting” that is proposed now means the IAEA will continue to be the key interlocutor with Tehran on its nuclear programme and the council, which will get reports from ElBaradei, will have a secondary role.
At his news conference in Delhi today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might have meant this when he said: “I still believe that this is a matter which should be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.”
Bush administration officials who are working hard to keepIndia on their side during the voting in Vienna regretted that this significant diplomatic nuancing, brought about by Moscow and Beijing, had been completely lost on the Left parties in India.
“We remain opposed to any referral of the issue to the UN Security Council as was earlier envisaged by the US and some European countries,” a statement issued by the Left parties in New Delhi today said. “They are still talking of a ‘referral’, 48 hours after we agreed that it will be ‘reporting’ instead,” said a US official.
Indian diplomats in Vienna, who have seen the resolution that will come up at the IAEA board tomorrow said it will cite the agency’s technical reports, which raise grave doubts about the nature of the Iranian nuclear programme and urge Tehran to take immediate steps to regain the IAEA’s confidence.
Iran could do this by suspending nuclear-fuel research, uranium enrichment and allowing access for IAEA personnel to its nuclear facilities.
In the spirit of compromise reached among the big powers in London on Monday, the resolution will then ask ElBaradei to “report” to the Security Council that these are the steps which Iran must take in order to move forward.