International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wound up debates on
Iran's nuclear program in Vienna on November 24–25, 2005.
Director-General Mohamed El Baradei welcomed recent Iranian
actions, including the provision of additional documents,
interviews with relevant individuals and further access, after
it was found to have broken its obligations under the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by concealing its activities
for nearly two decades. He called on Iran to take speedy
action to provide additional information and take other
measures that are indispensable for ensuring that its nuclear
programme is solely for peaceful purposes. Iran's nuclear
programme has been a matter of concern since 2003, when the US
and other EU countries had alleged it to be involved in the
manufacturing of nuclear weapons. However, the period from
September 24 to November 24, 2005 generated considerable heat
about the conduct of foreign policy relations, which are
analysed in this article.
happened on September 24, 2005?
is a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
According to the provisions of the treaty it is required to
meet certain obligations in terms of safeguards by supplying
information to the IAEA. In view of the allegations, a
resolution was adopted by the IAEA Board to refer the Iranian
nuclear issue to the UNSC. Consequently, India voted in favor
of the resolution on September 24, 2005, thereby supporting
the referral of the matter to the Security Council (SC) and
thus in a way going against the Iranian cause. The resolution
was adopted by a vote of 22–1. The important aspect of the
voting on the resolution was that 12 countries abstained
including two major countries –– Russia and China. This
had further made the Indian strategic community to critique
the whole issue.
Was IAEA Resolution About?
to the resolution Iran was held guilty of non-compliance in
the context of Article XII-C of the IAEA Statute, which inter
alia allows the IAEA Board “to report the non compliance
to… the Security Council and General Assembly of the United
Nations.” The resolution also entails Iran’s nuclear
activities and the Agency’s “resulting absence of
confidence” and that its programme is exclusively meant for
peaceful purpose”. The Resolution said it: “….finds also
that the history of concealment of Iran’s nuclear activities
referred to in the Director General’s report, the nature of
these activities, issues brought to light in the course of the
Agency’s verification of declarations made by Iran since
September 2002 and the resulting absence of confidence that
Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes
have given rise to questions that are within the competence of
the Security Council…” The resolution was sponsored by EU-Three
(United Kingdom, France and Germany).
Against the Indian Move
wide cross section of Indian intelligentsia had criticized the
move as a ‘foreign policy blunder’. Some were of the
opinion that when countries like Russia and China abstained
then India had no reason to cast a positive vote thereby
damaging both Iran and India’s relations with Iran beyond
repair. The following arguments were put forward against
amounts to compromising the independence of Indian foreign
policy for the sake of strengthening its strategic
partnership with United States. Indian policy makers must
understand that US foreign policy is guided by realpolitik
in the World rather than any other idealistic
considerations of nuclear weapons-free world or a World
where peace prevails.
Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s foreign policy
suffers from insecurity, a poor understanding of
international realities, a lack of confidence in the
nation’s strategic weight, and an absence of belief in
commitment to genuine independence and non alignment. This
is because the countries of the Third World are looking
towards India to provide a leadership to the group so that
they can translate the dream of New International Economic
Order into a reality thereby bringing an end to the
present world order based on exploitation.
parties, a coalition partner of UPA at the Centre,
vehemently opposed the vote. CPI (M) said that the
government gave in to the US pressure and had gone back on
its stated stand. Government had given up India’s policy
of non-alignment to accommodate with EU and US. The facts
that Iran had been our friend since long and was presently
helping us with strengthening our energy security through
the Iran–India pipeline which was envisaged to fetch
five-million-tonnes of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) per
year, strongly supported their arguments.
the India–Iran relations in the field of trade and
commerce and joint economic ventures, it was being said
that it would come as a serious setback to the growing
economic relations between the two countries.
UPA government justified that India’s vote was based on
the merits of the issue without any US pressure or deal
during July 18, 2005 agreement. Even then some of its own
coalition partners and others had criticized it.
long support to Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir entailed a
tacit approval of the Pak sponsored cross border terrorism
in which India was at the receiving end. Therefore, there
was something inherently wrong with Iran’s international
personality and its pursuits. Consequently, India did the
right thing by supporting the referral of the matter to
the Security Council thereby empowering the EU and US to
take further action.
the agreement of July 18, 2005, on civilian nuclear
supplies between India and US, cast a shadow on India’s
stand at the vote was contested. It was also stated at the
House International Relations Committee (US) that there
was always a quid pro quo in international relations and
India could not have been utterly unmindful of US
aspirations and then expect the Congress to support a deal
extending US civilian nuclear co-operation. It meant that
India had given some sort of promise to US towards its
vote on Iran in exchange for US cooperation for its own
peaceful nuclear program. The International system thus
far had proved to be a self-help system and countries
calculated their actions in terms of national interest.
most important threat perception that the world community
faced today was “international terrorism”. Still more
catastrophic was the probability of Weapons of Mass
Destruction (WMDs) falling into the hands of these
international terrorists. Iranian President Md.
Ahmedinejad during his visit to Turkey talked of making
available enrichment technology to other Islamic
countries, which further strengthened this argument. One
can only imaging the scale of menace of such happenings.
should ascertain the long-term gains of the Indian vote rather
than criticise the initiative driven by the imperatives of
party-politics. Certainly, that hurts India's standing,
prestige and self-cultivated vanity as a serious and
responsible power worthy of a seat in the UNSC. If India is a
serious contender of a permanent seat at UNSC then the
immediate need is to have its own international personality
and a constructive role in international relations. Rather
than a consequence of US pressure the move should be seen in
the context of regional and international security. Diplomatic
decisions should not be parochial.
One needs to take into consideration a holistic perspective
than to be swayed by emotive and irrelevant issues. Iran
cannot be denied the sovereign right to use nuclear energy for
peaceful purposes but in accordance with certain
internationally recognized guidelines.
Iran and the Congressional hearings on the Indo-US nuclear
deal”, The Hindu, October 01, 2005.
Karat, “Betrayal on Iran: Cost of India-US
Indian Express, September 30, 2005.
Baruah, “India’s IAEA vote was decided in advance”, The
Hindu, September 26, 2005.
tempers anger, says India deals on Track”, The
Indian Express, September 29, 2005.
Varadarajan, “The Persian Puzzle-I, II, III”, The
Hindu, September 21-23, 2005.
Douste-Blazy, Joshka Fischer, Javier Solana, and Jack
Straw, “Iran must work to rebuild confidence”, The
Hindu, September 24, 2005.
Board Chairman's conclusion on sub-item 3(b)”, Islamic
Republic News Agency, November 25, 2005.
optimist about resumption of Iran-EU talks”, Islamic
Republic News Agency, November 25, 2005.
Alok Kumar Gupta is an Assistant Professor in Faculty of
Policy Sciences at National Law University, Jodhpur and Anupam
Kishore Sinha is a student in the Faculty of Legal Studies at
the same University)