Scrambling to contain the damage caused by India’s IAEA vote against Iran, official agencies denied any long-term damage to Indo-Iranian relations but the Left said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had violated the foreign policy guidelines in the common minimum programme, which was against “hegemonism” by any country. The Left parties also warned of joint protests if India did not reverse ‘its betrayal’ of Iran at the next International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting.
In a terse statement, the foreign office confirmed that the Indian ambassador in Vienna had been told by the Iranian ambassador that economic ties including the LNG deal with Iran would be cancelled because of the IAEA vote.
But foreign office spokesman Navtej Sarna said Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran had met the Iranian ambassador in New Delhi to explain why India voted in favour of the EU III resolution.
“We have been given no indication in these interactions of Iran’s intentions to review its long-standing and extensive co-operation with India, which is of benefit to and in the interest of both countries,” Sarna said.
But at the morning breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, at which Saran and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee were also present, Left leaders were trenchant in their opinion of the way the government was conducting its foreign policy.Mukherjee admitted that the Congress had differences with the Left on this issue.
“We are not happy. Iran and India have had traditional relations. Besides, we depend on that country for LNG. Why did you do this?” Left leaders told the Prime Minister.
“We demanded that India should assure the world that we will not allow the issue to be raised at the United Nations Security Council,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters after the 75-minute meeting.
They said if India had wanted to be constructive, it should have abstained like Russia, China and Pakistan and thus prevented Iran’s reference to the Security Council for violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty.“The vote was not of any consequence to the final outcome. It was a positioning vote which unfortunately gives the impression that India is aligning with the US on the matter,” said Yechury.
“The fact is that Iran has merely converted uranium, something not punishable by the NPT,” the Left parties said. Yechury said even if the IAEA resolution was taken up at the Security Council, it would not be adopted since both Russia and China—permanent members with veto powers—did not agree with it at the Vienna meeting.
“Therefore, there was no need for India to position itself in a manner which clearly indicates that it was siding with the US, especially when we are in a position to lead the developing world today,” Yechury said. “Different parties have different perceptions. They also presented their perceptions at the meeting convened by the Prime Minister,” Mukherjee said.
CPI leaders A B Bardhan and D Raja and RSP’s Abani Roy accompanied Yechury at the meeting.
Maintaining that such a stand could affect India’s energy security interests at a time when New Delhi and Tehran had agreed to construct a gas pipeline through Pakistan, Yechury said: “We are not convinced by the explanation given by the government and our differences remain. India should have abstained from voting.”
Now its time will tell whether Iran suspends the much coveted LNG deal and we once again sacrifice our national interest to please US.