Indian FM: Tehran has right to civilian nuke power

Lieberman says Israel expects world to abide by sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

PM Netanyahu and Indian FM S.M. Krishna 311 (photo credit: Alex Kolomyski)
PM Netanyahu and Indian FM S.M. Krishna 311
(photo credit: Alex Kolomyski)
With the US and Europe significantly ratcheting up sanctions against Iran, visiting Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna reasserted Tuesday Tehran’s right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but stressed it should be done within International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines.
Energy-hungry India and China have been widely seen as rendering economic sanctions against Iran less effective because of their continued robust trade with Iran for its oil.
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Asked by The Jerusalem Post at a press conference after meeting Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman what it would take for India to step up sanctions on Iran like the US and EU have done, Krishna said India has consistently taken the position that all countries have the right to nuclear energy, subject to IAEA parameters.
“Just like India has exercised the option of using nuclear energy to meet its growing energy demands, so is every nation entitled to develop that,” he said. He added that the IAEA provided the “basic framework for addressing technical issues related to any nuclear program.”
Diplomatic officials said India, which secretly developed its own nuclear program – including nuclear weapons – was reticent to publicly chastise Iran for doing what it once did itself.
Lieberman sidestepped the question of whether it was realistic to expect India to embargo Iranian oil, which accounts for 14 percent of the country’s oil needs. He said only that India was the “biggest democracy in the world,” and one that respected international law and all decisions of the international community.
Lieberman said Israel expected the UN Security Council and other international institutions to “move forward with clear decisions” on Iran sanctions. “Our expectation, of course, is for tough sanctions against Iran’s central bank and the oil and gas industry, and we really expect that if these decisions are passed, that every country will respect them.”
Though New Delhi has made clear that it would abide by UN sanctions, India has not shown any inclination to go beyond those sanctions, as the US, EU, and some other Western countries have done.
Krishna, on a three-day visit to mark 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, is the highest ranking Indian official to visit Israel in almost 12 years. In addition to meeting Lieberman, he also met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Tuesday. He is scheduled to go to Ramallah Wednesday for a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Before meeting Netanyahu, who in brief remarks emphasized the economic and scientific cooperation between the two countries, the Indian foreign minister underlined the security component of the relationship as well.
“I think we will have to work out a strategy as to how we address ourselves to the scourge of international terrorism, which has become the curse for the entire humanity,” he said. “I think our efforts should be to checkmate and ultimately eradicate terrorists from the face of the earth.”
Israel and India engage in $5 billion of trade annually, outside of sales of military equipment and technology estimated to be more than a billion dollars a year.
Lieberman, during his press conference, announced Israel would soon be opening a consulate in Bangalore, the center of India’s flourishing hi-tech center. Israel already has a consulate in Mumbai, in addition to its embassy in New Delhi.