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Iran not getting military training from India: Rice

The US Secretary of State said port calls made by Iranian ships at Kochi do not amount to Iran getting military training from India.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 08:42 IST

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected the notion that port calls made by Iranian ships at Kochi amounted to Iran getting military training from India.

Senator Barbara Boxer said at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday that some lawmakers wanted India to end any such relationship with Iran as a pre-condition for the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

In a testy exchange with Boxer, Rice said that a Defence News report on a military-to-military relationship between Iran and India was "not right".

"There have been Iranian ship port calls in India. The assertion ...That they train Iranian sailors is not right," Rice said. "Not everything in the Defence News is right."

"The Indians say that they do not train Iranian sailors and soldiers. India is not the only country in the world that has relationships with Iran," Rice said.

According to Boxer, two Iranian warships were docked in Kochi as part of a training programme under a "three-year old military cooperation agreement" India has with Tehran.

"Don't you think it's in the best interest of America when we're going to do this extraordinary special deal to make as a condition that they end that relationship?" the California Democrat said.

However, Rice maintained the US has made very clear to India its concerns "about their relationship with Iran... about the pipeline...About their initial vote in the IAEA."

The Secretary of State's replies did not seem to satisfy Boxer who said Rice' remarks felt a "bit hollow" and the nuclear deal needed "more checks and balances."

In her remarks, Senator Boxer slammed the Indo-US deal saying that the deal rewards India for not inking the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"One of the great incentives of the NPT is that non-nuclear weapons nations are given access to civil nuclear assistance. By allowing India to receive civil nuclear assistance while it continues production of weapons, India is being rewarded," she said.

Boxer also felt that the nuclear deal will give India the capability to expand its arsenal of weapons.

"While US nuclear assistance will only be used for civilian purposes, uranium fuel imports from the US will allow India to dedicate more of its scarce uranium ore for military use," she said.

Boxer also felt that the the timing of this deal negatively impacts US policy in Iran.

"I understand that there's no comparison between India and Iran, but we still have to be consistent in terms of our policy," she said.