Tuesday, April 18, 2006

India: PM Gives Imam Delegation the Iran Pill

Times of India:
Though the political fallout of opposing Iran's nuclear programme is worrying the government, PM Manmohan Singh on Tuesday unequivocally told a delegation of Muslim leaders that Tehran's nuclear ambitions were not in India's interest. While denying that India's foreign policy was guided by US diktat, Singh drove home the message that Iran's clandestine nuclear programme had existed for several years and New Delhi did not gain from having another nuclear weapons state in the neighbourhood. READ MORE

The PM chose to point out that unlike India, Iran had chosen to sign the NPT which meant that there were a set of rules that Tehran needed to observe. "Iran should have all the rights and duties of a signatory state to NPT," he told the delegation, which was led by the Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Ahmed Bukhari.

Singh sought to make it clear that even though both India and US have taken the same position on Iran at IAEA, the independent view of his government was that Iran's turning nuclear was just not in India's interest anyway.

The PM's plain talk in the midst of the ongoing assembly elections in states with significant Muslim populations seems indicative of Singh's determination to set the record straight over allegations levelled by Left parties, regional outfits like SP and Muslim groups that he had followed the US trajectory on Iran.

With mounting evidence that Pakistan's rogue nuclear scientist A Q Khan had helped Iran's nuclear programme, possibly with the covert blessings of Pakistan's military leaders, Indian concerns over the middle-eastern nation acquiring a bomb are proving to be all too real.

Strong speculation that Khan may have been of crucial assistance to Iran in setting up high-speed centrifuges has strengthened India's case against Iran.