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'Let Iran be like India'

While India ponders over its stance at upcoming IAEA meet, Anupam Varma talks to a group of Iranians.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 18:40 IST

To vote or not to vote - while India is yet to decide its stance over Iran at the impending International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meet in Vienna, young Iranians in Delhi hope that New Delhi "will support us this time".

Iran's relationship with India is not new. Strong cultural and political ties date back many centuries and include periods of both tension and friendship.

However, India seems toforget this when it comes to supporting Iran in front of the world.

New Delhihad surprised the world last September by supporting Washington at an IAEA vote, which declared that Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations.

The Iranian community in the national capital, as expected, is a firm supporter of their country. Whether India votes or not is not their concern. All they want is that the US should not interfere in their country's internal matters.

As Dr Qamar Ghaffar, Professor, Department of Persian, Jamia Millia Islamia, puts it, "India's stance on the Iran issue is justified. The Indian government is answerable to the billions it represents. It has to do what it feels is right, even if it means supporting the US."

Asked whether she felt that Iran was wrong in resuming its nuclear programme, she said, "My supporting India does not mean that Iran is wrong. Iran is doing something for its own benefit. How can India's supporting or deserting Iran make Iran's decision right or wrong? Iran is right in its own sense. India only has to decide whether to support or not."

But this is precisely where India had gone wrong. After the vote last September, Iran had threatened to review its economic and trade ties with all the 22 nations that had gone against it.

The US wants Iran to be referred to the United Nations Security Council, as it fears that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons in the garb of research and development.

When asked why, if right, does Iran not want to be referred to the UNSC, Dr Qamar Ghaffar said, "Currently, the the US, along with the UK, France and other European nations, is creating a hindrance. If the case goes to the UNSC, the members, mostly developed European nations, will all start opposing Iran."

"US wrecked Iraq only on the basis of an assumption. And European countries have supported it. US is up to it again. Only this time, it wants to do it in a legal manner," she added.

During the previous vote, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran had said that India supported the IAEA resolution to avert "a major confrontation" between Iran and the international community. At the same time, India had hoped that this would not affect bilateral energy cooperation and that the $7.4 billion trilateral gas pipeline project through Pakistan would go ahead.

The student community, though not as vocal, is up in arms against the US. And, some are hopeful that India will support Iran this time.

"The two countries have good relations. They are doing business together. India should support Iran," said Majid Azadi, an MA student from the School of Environmental Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

"If the US fears that Iran may develop nuclear weapons, it should station personnel in Iran who can keep an eye on the developments. They have hundreds of troops in Iraq. Surely, they can send people there as well," he added.

According to Masoud Imani, America's fear is, to a large extent, unreasonable.

The student from JNU's School of International Studies argued, "The US is taking the once-bitten-twice-shy thing too far. Agreed, a Muslim terrorist attacked US and keeps issuing threats time and again. But how can one put at stake the growth of others due to one's own irrational fears?"

"Today India undertakes nuclear research and develops technology through government bodies like BARC. But India follows world body norms. Iran can do the same thing," observed Sahar, another JNU student.

Well, no matter what Iranians think of their country, as regards the Indian stance, let's wait and watch.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 12:45 IST