Days after a letter from prominent US Congressmen to the Prime Minister seeking curbs on India's relations with Iran, India on Wednesday said it has banned export of all nuclear-related technology to Iran. There was outrage in Parliament over the letter last week, with members saying the US was dictating India's foreign policy guidelines.
In reply to a question on the subject in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said a notification issued on February 20, 2007 prohibits direct or indirect export and import of all material that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme. Iran’s nuclear programme has been taken up during high-level interactions with leaders of that country, Mukherjee said. India has consistently maintained that the issue of Iran’s nuclear enrichment should be resolved peacefully, through dialogue and negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
While the ban on exports of nuclear-related material to Iran was notified by the Director General of Foreign Trade under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992, well before the letter from US Congressmen to the PM, the response today should go some distance in meeting some concerns expressed by the US Congressmen.
The order prohibits “direct or indirect export and import of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran’s enrichment related, reprocessing or heavy water related activities, or to the development of nuclear delivery systems.” This, Mukherjee clarified, was “in pursuance of India’s obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1737 of 23 December, 2006,” adopted under the mandatory Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The Ministry of External Affairs, in its annual report for 2006-2007, released today, outlines the close civilizational ties with Iran and the close interaction, including at the level of a strategic dialogue between the two countries.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on record saying that India does not want to see another nuclear weapons power in the neighbourhood, though he supported Tehran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear power. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
According to a recently published report he wrote for the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mark Fitzpatrick has identified (AQ) Khan as the head of the group that sold nuclear technology and equipment to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
"Ego, money, nationalism and a sense of Islamic fraternity" motivated Dr Khan and his supporters to sell nuclear technology to other Muslim countries, Fitzpatrick said.