Meet eve, Iran picks on India
As Iran on Sunday trashed the United States for its "double standards" in signing a nuclear deal with India, not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to gauge the status of the negotiations between Moscow and Tehran on the eve of the IAEA meeting.india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 00:46 IST
As Iran on Sunday trashed the United States for its "double standards" in signing a nuclear deal with India, not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to gauge the status of the negotiations between Moscow and Tehran on the eve of the IAEA meeting.
Putin and Singh exchanged views in context of the forthcoming meeting of the Board of Governors of the IAEA on March 6, during their 20-minute telephonic conversation, initiated by the Indian Prime Minister, who is facing serious criticism from allies for voting to report Iran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council. According to an official statement, Singh "welcomed Russia's efforts to address the issue related to Iran's nuclear programme through dialogue and consultations."
Russia and Iran have engaged in intensive negotiations over the past weeks to try and ensure that Teheran accepts Moscow's plan to allow Iranian nuclear fuel to be enriched in Russia as a gesture of cooperation with the international community's concerns over Iran's nuclear programme. India supports the Russian proposal as a means to ensure that the Iranian nuclear issue stays within the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency. During his recent talks with US President George Bush, Singh urged Washington to allow more time for dialogue to resolve Iran's nuclear programme.
Singh advocated greater restraint towards Iran and told Bush that India did not want another nuclear weapons state in its neighbourhood, but punitive action like sanctions and excessive pressure should not be placed on Tehran.
According to reports, Russia and Iran are close to reaching an agreement by which Iran's nuclear fuel could be enriched on Russian soil. But, Teheran has warned that any referral to the UNSC by the IAEA's board of governors on Monday could jeopardize the entire deal. Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, to produce energy, to which it is entitled under the NPT, but is suspected by western countries of clandestinely trying to build a nuclear weapon.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Washington was systematically trying to show Teheran in a bad light. "The United States' approach is a form of double standards. It signed a contract with a country that was not a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That is objectionable. On the other hand, it approaches Iran in such a (bad) way."
While the Indian government chose not to officially react to Asefi's statement , privately there was dismay that Tehran was repeatedly dragging New Delhi into a controversy. "Iran voluntarily signed the NPT," a source said. "India chose not to, because it was discriminatory, so how can similar standards apply?"
The PM is under intense pressure from Left allies not to vote against Iran again at the IAEA tomorrow. But it is unlikely there will be a vote at the IAEA's meeting of the 35-member board of governors. Instead, the progress of negotiations with Tehran will be reviewed and the IAEA Director General, Mohammad El Baradei, will present his report on the status of Iran's compliance (or otherwise) with IAEA directives.