India has voted along with the US,China and other major powers in favour of a German-sponsored resolution at the IAEA on referring the Iran nuclear programme yet again to the UN Security Council.
However,it clarified in its explanation of vote that this decision cannot be the basis of a renewed punitive approach or new sanctions.
Three countries Venezuela,Malaysia and Cuba voted against the resolution and six abstained: Egypt,Pakistan,Afghanistan,Brazil,South Africa and Turkey.
India abstained from another resolution moved by Russia to create an international nuclear fuel bank on its territory so that there is assurance of fuel supply as a safety measure for all member countries.
While India has always supported the idea,sources said,it had problems with the resolution because it makes a reference to this facility being accessible to non-nuclear weapon states.
India has always maintained such a distinction is only made by the Non-Proliferation Treaty and cannot be applied to the IAEA,where no such categorization exists. Despite the Indian abstention,the resolution won the requisite vote and has been passed.
Given that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Moscow in the first week of December,the issue of India having access to any such fuel bank could be discussed.
On the Iran vote,India took the stand that the IAEA Director Generals latest report makes it difficult to overlook Tehrans non-compliance with the subsidiary safeguards arrangements. The Agencys safeguards system is the bedrock of the international communitys confidence that peaceful uses of nuclear energy and non-proliferation objectives can be pursued in a balanced manner. The integrity of this system should be preserved, stated India in its explanation of vote.
The decision comes just days after Singhs talks with US President Barack Obama where the issue did figure and India made it known that India was not in favour of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. At the same time,Singh also told Obama about his conversation with Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki when he recently visited India.
I asked him (Mottaki) about the state of play with regard to the negotiations on the nuclear programme of Iran. He said to me that they have been getting very good messages from the new Obama Administration and that he was hopeful that engagement with P5 powers will succeed. If that comes about,as neighbours of Iran,we would welcome an outcome of engagement between Iran and P5. I sincerely hope that this engagement will be productive, said Singh after his talks with Obama.
India reaffirmed this position at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting,saying it had been encouraged by the new pathways of engagement that had opened up with Iran recently and underlined that it did not believe the adoption of this resolution should divert the parties away from dialogue.
Having said so,the Indian side was also clear that the IAEA DGs conclusions could not be ignored. The key findings related to the Fordow Fuel Enrichment near Qom in Iran:
• Iran informed the Agency about the construction of a new pilot enrichment plant at Qom only in September 2009 while construction had begun back in 2007.
• IAEA DG reported that Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities or its work on heavy water-related projects as required by the Security Council.
• IAEA DG made it clear he is unable to give a clean chit on the military dimensions of Irans nuclear programme.
With such conclusions,sources said,the consensus was to escalate pressure and India was left with little choice.