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Iran policy was key to nuclear deal with U.S. R. Ramachandran

Burns' remarks hint at U. S. pressure in the run-up to the meeting

NEW DELHI: A perusal of the full transcript of the September 8 hearings into the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal conducted by the House International Relations Committee (HIRC) makes it clear that for both the Congressmen and testifying State Department officials, India's Iran policy was key to the agreement.

"There is a degree of reciprocity," Mr. Tom Lantos said, "we expect of India, which has not been forthcoming...we agree to undertake a tremendous range of path-breaking measures to accommodate India, while India blithely pursues what it sees should be its goal and policy vis--vis Iran. There is a quid pro quo in international relations. And if our Indian friends are interested in receiving all of the benefits of U. S. support...we have every right to expect that India will reciprocate in taking into account our concerns...and without reciprocity, India will get very little help from the Congress..."

No firm commitment

Though there was perhaps a nod of assurance in July to go with the U. S. on Iran at the IAEA, India had not given a firm commitment to that effect, as Mr. Burns clarified (in his later exchanges with Representative Brad Sherman at the hearing). Mr. Burns' further remarks indicate that the U. S., therefore, continued to put pressure on the Indian Government in the run-up to the IAEA meeting to vote favourably on the referral of the Iran case to the Security Council.

Mr. Burns said: "As I understand India's position on Iran, India does not wish Iran to become a nuclear weapon state, and I believe the Indian Government has gone on record to say that. We have had, over the last several weeks, and specifically the last few days, a series of conversations with the Indian Government about the best way to achieve that...I can't speak for the Indian Government. But I can say that this is an issue where we intend to have further discussions with them next week at the U. N. General Assembly in New York. I know that Secretary Rice will be raising this with the Indian Foreign Minister, I will be doing so with the Indian Foreign Secretary..."

Concern conveyed

"We have," added Mr. Burns, "seen the same quote [of the Indian Foreign Minister] that you [Lantos] have...we've registered our concern with the Indian Government, of course. And we've said to the Indians that we hope that they will retain support for the decision that they helped us to take on August 11th in the IAEA Board of Governors...You can be assured, we'll carry the message we've heard today on Iran back to our discussions tomorrow morning with the Indian Government...We are specifically asking India to join with us...to refer Iran to the Security Council...I don't believe we've heard the last word from the Indian government...The Indians were with us on August 11th at the IAEA and we have a very active diplomatic campaign right now..."

Though the BOG resolution of August 11 — adopted by consensus — urged Iran to resume its voluntary suspension of all enrichment-related on voluntary and non-legally binding basis, it did not find that reporting to the U.N. Security Council was necessary. The continuous diplomatic onslaught by the U. S. on India clearly worked on September 24 when India voted in favour of the new BOG resolution on Iran, which has now set the stage for referral to the Security Council. And Mr. Burns, who has led this campaign with India, had reasons to be particularly pleased with the outcome. He called it "a blow to Iran's attempt to turn this debate into a developed-world-versus-developing-world debate."

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