The purpose of Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari's visit to the Capital was to brief the Indian government about developments related to Iran's nuclear issue, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said on Friday. In meetings with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Friday, Safari briefed them on recent discussions Iran has held with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"The purpose of the visit," MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna said, "was to was to brief Government of India on developments related to Iran's nuclear issue and in particular the recent discussions it has had with the IAEA." Sarna declined to respond when asked if Mehdi was briefed about details of the just-concluded 123 Agreement on peaceful civil nuclear cooperation with the United States, but said the government had urged Iran to remove "all doubts and uncertainty" about its nuclear programme.
Safari's visit to New Delhi as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's special envoy coincided with US Congressmen writing to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to say that India's ties with Iran could still stymie the civil nuclear deal.
Caught in a nuclear bind between its Left allies and the deal it has negotiated with the United States, the Indian government reiterated its "consistent stand" to Safari, "that Iran has the right to develop peaceful use of nuclear energy while fulfilling all its international commitments and obligations," Sarna said at a briefing. However, "there is clearly further progress to be made in the future," he said, and "the need for the nuclear issue to be dealt with in active and transparent cooperation with the IAEA, through dialogue and negotiation, was also mentioned."
Iran's nuclear enrichment programme has been an issue of concern to India, with the matter consistently raised at high-level interaction with that country's leaders. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on record saying that India does not want to see another nuclear 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 (NPT), Iran has a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while fulfilling its international obligations.
Iran has been critical of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, accusing the United States of 'double standards' in negotiating the deal with India while denying Iran. Iran, however, has signed the NPT. India has not.
As part of its international obligations under Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter, after UN sanctions were slapped on Iran, India banned export of all nuclear-related technology to that country. Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha that 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.