The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India waits & watches Iran script
- Delhi studies sanctions, but pitches for talks

New Delhi, Dec. 24: India has decided to study the implications of the UN sanctions on Iran for pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, but underlined the need for immediate talks to resolve the standoff.

Delhi said the International Atomic Energy Agency should play a central role in settling the row with Tehran, which vowed to press ahead with uranium enrichment and condemned the Security Council’s resolution as a “piece of torn paper”.

“We have noted the passage of the UN Security Council resolutions and are studying its implication,” foreign ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters, when asked about the world body’s decision.

“We continue to feel that all possible efforts should be made to address the Iran nuclear issue by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation and that the IAEA should play a central role in resolving outstanding issues,” Sarna added.

Sources said India, which had voted with the West to report Iran’s controversial nuclear programme to the Security Council at the Vienna-based IAEA earlier this year, has chosen to be cautious.

Delhi’s Iran policy had come under scrutiny as many felt it was influenced by Washington. The government also faced a tough time from critics over a clause in the recently passed law in Washington on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

The law links US cooperation with India to its policy on Iran, though Delhi has been working hard to convince the George W. Bush regime that the clause should not become part of the bilateral nuclear agreement.

On Iran, India says it has the right to pursue its nuclear programme for peaceful civilian use but should respect international commitments. “It has undertaken certain obligations that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes,” the foreign office spokesperson said.

Delhi says its ties with Tehran are historic and cannot be undermined. Last month, Iran foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki was in India and held extensive talks with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee on the nuclear issue.

But though India, which supported Russian efforts to help enrich uranium for Iran, is not convinced that Iran needed to be punished at this stage, it feels satisfied that the UN resolution is not as stringent as moved by some of the members.

The sanctions are aimed at preventing Iran from trade in sensitive nuclear material and technology and stop enrichment of uranium that can be used for making bombs.

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