January 27, 2006

India Says U.S. Envoy Expresses Regret over Nuclear Comment

India Says U.S. Envoy Expresses Regret over Nuclear Comment
By REUTERS, NEW DELHI


The U.S. envoy to India on Jan. 26 expressed regret over his comments that a nuclear deal between Washington and New Delhi may stall unless India votes against Iran next month at a meeting of the U.N.’s atomic energy agency.

Ambassador David Mulford’s statement came a day after he told an Indian news agency that if India decided not to vote against Iran, “the effect on members of the U.S. Congress with regard to the civil nuclear initiative will be devastating.”

The remarks upset New Delhi, which rejected attempts to link the vote to the landmark India-U.S. nuclear cooperation pact.



Mulford was called in by the Indian foreign secretary on Jan. 26 and told that his remarks were “inappropriate and not conducive to building a strong partnership” between the two countries, an Indian Foreign Ministry statement said.

“The ambassador expressed his sincere regrets, saying that his remarks had been taken out of context,” the statement said. “It was not at all his intention to question India’s right to take decisions on various issues on the basis of its own national interests.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to meet on Feb. 2 to discuss whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear program the West says is aimed at developing weapons, which Tehran denies.

In July, U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached an accord on civil nuclear energy that would reverse a nearly 30-year-old ban on atomic cooperation with New Delhi, which has tested nuclear arms.

The deal has yet to be fully worked out, especially the key requirement of a separation plan for India’s civil and military nuclear facilities, and must then pass a final test in the U.S. Congress and be agreed to by the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.

India surprised its historic ally Iran in September by siding with the West when the IAEA declared Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations.

The diplomatic turnaround triggered domestic uproar with communist allies of Singh’s government, accusing it of selling out to the United States.


COMMMENT
US Ambassador’s comments were well planned remarks. The logic goes like this. US do not want to go with the deal after Jan 19-20 Mr. Burns meeting with Mr. Saran and they are looking for a nice reason to ditch the deal. Now after these comments from US Ambassador it does not make sense for India to vote in favor of US with regards to Iran. At best India will abstain from voting. Then US congressmen can quote India is a concern with regards to Iran and hence we have decided to reject the deal.

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