India cannot be accused of kowtowing to any foreign country, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said on Saturday, defending India's vote for the IAEA censure resolution against Iran.
India had Friday voted in favour of the resolution at Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency against Iran over its nuclear programme, but qualified it by saying it is opposed to "a renewed punitive approach or sanctions" and stressed the need for "keeping doors open for dialogue".
Tharoor told TV channel Times Now: "I would not see it that way. As you know for many years we were accused of kowtowing to the Soviet Union when there was a Soviet Union. So this business of accusing people of kowtowing is very much in the eye of the beholder or in the tongue of the critic."
He added that the "responsible decision" was taken "on the basis of our judgement on what is in our sovereign national interest".
"In some cases that might be a decision that will please a certain capital, or displease another capital -- but ultimately the only capital we are concerned about is New Delhi," he said.
The IAEA resolution was endorsed by six world powers -- the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- and passed by a margin of 25-3 in the 35-member board of governors.
It appears to signal possible support for any new Western push for a fourth set of UN sanctions in case of Iran continuing its defiance over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects to be for developing atomic bombs.
India's vote against the Iranian nuclear programme comes barely two weeks after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna in New Delhi.
India had voted against Tehran first in 2005 and then again in 2006, inviting criticism from Left allies of the first UPA administration for following the US line in return for the civil nuclear deal.
The latest IAEA resolution, based on a critical report by its outgoing Director-General Mohamed El-Baradei, demanded that Tehran freeze the uranium enrichment facility at Qom immediately.
Under international pressure, Iran had finally revealed its new facility in Qom only in September, leading first to outrage and then a renewed effort by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany to engage Tehran to give up its enrichment plan.