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Hitting a roadblock

India and Iran have always been friends, and the IAEA setback should hopefully soon be resolved, writes Siyavash Zargar Yaghoubi.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2005 03:30 IST

"Among the many people and races who have come in contact with and influenced India’s life and culture, the oldest and most persistent have been the Iranians”….

With these remarkable words, Jawaharlal Nehru, drew attention in his book Discovery of India to the age-old relations that existed between India and Iran. By their geographical vicinity, their racial bonds, their assimilative habits and, above all, by their inborn love for peace and culture both India and Iran have influenced each other.

A small example of this friendship is the names of the two countries which have been taken from each other’s country. The name “Iran” has been taken from Sanskrit language. Similarly the name “India” has come from Iran through Greek to Latin to English and finally to India. The beautiful name of Hindustan is a mixture of Hindi and Persian.

After the independence of India and in the contemporary era, these strong ties are still helping in building bridges between the two countries. With the signing of the Friendship Pact in 1951 between the two countries and the visits of Nehru , Indira Gandhi, the Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, Ayatollah Rafsanjani, Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, Vajpayee and Khatami and finally with the signing of the three important documents including the Tehran and new Delhi Declaration and the Roadmap of Strategic Cooperation, relations entered a new phase. Afghanistan also provided an opportunity to the two countries to come closer to each other and prevent a calamity which could have affected this whole region.

Though the recent developments in the IAEA was unexpected and came as a surprise to the old friend, but I am sure that the age-old ties and shared strategic interests of both the countries will eventually overcome these differences as well.

For the last 26 years the Islamic Republic of Iran has spared no effort in cooperating with the IAEA as far as its commitments under the NPT is concerned. Iran is the only Member State which voluntarily invited — in the late 80s — the IAEA safeguards inspectors to visit all sites and facilities at their discretion, even those locations not declarable under the Safeguards Agreement. To have extensive cooperation with the IAEA within the framework of NPT and to show transparency, Iran also signed the Additional Protocol in December 2003 and voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol since that time, as if it has been ratified.

Iran has granted full, unrestricted and even surprised access to all nuclear facilities, or any industrial or military sites if requested, and provided full detail information on the chronologies, activities, researches, progress reports regarding the enrichment activities, uranium conversion, plutonium separation, mining and milling, research reactor and heavy water production. More than twenty complementary accesses to the atomic sites of Iran have been granted to the international investigators during the past two years. Some of these inspections took place with the short notice of just two hours or even less.

During the last two years, Iran has proactively cooperated with the Agency in an extraordinary manner with almost continuous inspections, amount to over 1,300 man-day inspection, which is unprecedented in the history of the IAEA.

In an historical and unprecedented gesture, Iran decided to voluntarily and temporarily suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities in order to give the Agency an opportunity to perform its technical activities. Iran took a major proactive step by this action in order to give a chance for the Agency to perform technical analysis of the samples. In accordance with the Paris Agreement, Iran as a confidence building, not legally binding measure, agreed to voluntarily suspend its enrichment while the negotiation on mutually acceptable long term arrangement proceeds. Both Tehran & Paris agreements in 2003 and 2004 respectively had recognised Iran’s right to work on nuclear fuel cycle including enrichment.

But the last proposal presented to Iran, was in full contravention of the sprit and letter of the Paris agreement. This proposal had excluded the Iran’s right to have activities on nuclear fuel cycle. Long before, Iran had in many occasions warned that any proposal which exclude Iran’s inalienable right for nuclear fuel cycle, will be contrary to Paris Agreement, and thus shall put the continuation of negotiation in jeopardy. Based on this process, Iran had no more choice than to resume the UCF activities.

The report which Mohammad Albaradei presented on September 2 to the Board of Governors, pointed to the positive trend in interaction of Iran with Agency and that this development can have a constructive role in removing all suspicions. In such an atmosphere and conditions, it is obvious that the recent resolution in the Board of Governors lacked any legal basis and was just a political and unjust action to counter the logical wishes and the natural rights of the people of Iran.

Iran has reiterated that: 1) is fully committed to the principles of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; 2) the nuclear weapons option is not in Iran’s Defense Doctrine, and that its nuclear activities will be exclusively for peaceful purpose; 3) it is determined to continue its full cooperation with the IAEA and implementation of its obligations under the Agency’s safeguards provided it is not deprived from its inalienable right for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including nuclear fuel cycle as envisaged in the Agency’s Statute and the NPT.

But it is remarkable that those countries who are now concerned about Iran benefiting from its established right regarding peaceful use of nuclear technology as a signatory of the NPT, are the same who encouraged Saddam’s war against Iran and armed him even with chemical weapons. These sorts of weapons were used against the Iranians and against its own people. There are still many in Iran and Iraq who are suffering from aftermath of these politics. Helping or at least ignoring Taliban crimes is still another sad tragedy by the same policy.

Though that time all international rules and commitments were severely trampled upon and international peace was under threat, the military attack and the occupation of a country and the use of chemical weapons were not enough to take the violator country, which at that time was in the camp of the champions of human rights and democracy, to the Security Council.

As a great surprise, less than one decade after that tragic incident and the absence of any proof regarding military use of an atomic programme, only on the basis of suspicion and political considerations, efforts are being made that this region is once again drawn towards a new phase of tension and insecurity in which, all of us would be the real victims of this tension and insecurity. Iraq is the result of all these strategic mistakes. However, I sincerely hope that wisdom, logic, understanding and dialogue will not permit that the world be pushed towards a new crisis.

(The writer is Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran)

First Published: Oct 02, 2005 01:17 IST