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'Security' shaped stand on Iran

The PM said there were "unresolved" questions over Iran's N-programme.Text of PM's statement on India's Iran vote

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 21:21 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday maintained that security concerns "shaped" the government's position on the Iran vote at the IAEA.

He said that India cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the implications of clandestine proliferation of sensitive technology "in our own neighbourhood".

With the Left parties breathing down the government's neck warning against an anti-Iran vote at the March 6 meeting, he said the sensitive issue of Teheran's rights could be addressed through calm and reasoned diplomacy and India would support diplomatic efforts in this regard, drawing its friendly relations with all the key countries involved.

Taking the first opportunity to clarify the government's position on the vote on Iran's controversial nuclear programme in the IAEA, he said in a statement in both Houses of Parliament that despite successive reports of IAEA Director General there were many "unresolved" questions on key issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme.

"These include the use of centrifuges imported from third countries and designs relating to fabrication of metallic hemispheres. Members are aware that source of such clandestine proliferation of sensitive technologies lies in our neighbourhood, details of which have emerged from successive IAEA reports," the Prime Minister said.

Expressing confidence that the House would agree that India cannot afford to turn a blind to security implications of such proliferation activities, he said, "The objectives of upholding Iran's rights and obligations and our security concerns arising from proliferation activities in our extended neighbourhood have shaped our position."

Therefore, Singh said, India's approach has been consistently in favour of promoting all efforts to find a solution, based on acceptable mutual compromises, in which Iran's interests and the concerns of the international community would be addressed.

"We have consistently worked to promote a consensus in the IAEA towards this end. This has been the logic of our stand at the IAEA Board of Governors meetings both in September 2005 and earlier this month," he said.

He reminded members that it was only on those two occasions that the Resolution that resulted has "not" been a consensus one and a vote had been necessary.

Despite that, the Prime Minister said, in the latest vote this month, the Resolution not only had the support of all P-5 countries including Russia and China, but also important NAM and developing countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Singapore, Yemen and Sri Lanka.

Recalling that the resolutions of September 5 last year and this month underlined the need for time to be given for diplomatic efforts to continue, he said the latest resolution called for diplomatic efforts including through exploration of the option provided by Russia, which India has supported.

He said India was hopeful of a positive outcome of discussions between Iran and Russia, which has offered to locate a joint venture on its soil to address Iranian needs for enriched uranium, provided it suspends its enrichment programme to increase international confidence regarding unresolved questions.

The Prime Minister said he would like to reiterate India's unshakeable conviction that such a sensitive issue concerning rights and international obligations of a sovereign nation could only be addressed through calm, reasoned diplomacy and the willingness on all sides to eschew confrontation and seek compromise solutions.

"We are therefore deeply concerned by escalating rhetoric and growing tensions and the possibility of a confrontation over this issue.

"This is a matter of concern for us as tensions in this region -- where our vital political, economic and security interests are involved -- affects us directly. The region hosts 3.5 million Indian citizens whose welfare is a major concern of my government," he said.

Singh urged all concerned to exercise restraint, demonstrate flexibility and continue with dialogue to reach an amicable solution.

At the IAEA meeting next month a full and regular report would be presented by the IAEA DG, he said adding "we will support diplomatic efforts in this regard, drawing upon our friendly relations with all the key countries involved."

At the outset, Singh said India's vote on the IAEA resolution did not in any way detract from the traditionally close and friendly relations with Iran.

He said India was committed to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline which was a necessary step in taking the project forward.

Singh also said as a signatory to the NPT Iran had the legal right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international commitments and obligations.

It was incumbent upon Iran to exercise these rights in the context of safeguards that it had voluntarily accepted.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 03:48 IST