India cautious on Iran sanctions, pitches for talks
New Delhi: With the UN Security Council (UNSC) Wednesday imposing fourth round of sanctions against Tehran, India has no choice but to implement new measures but New Delhi has let it be known that there is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.
"Being a UN member, India will have to abide by the UNSC resolution. But we continue to advocate, as we have always done, dialogue and diplomacy to resolve issues relating to the Iranian nuclear programme," official sources said.
India has affirmed its commitment to enforcing all UN measures against Iran, which is suspected to be developing nuclear weapons, since the UNSC announced the first set of sanctions in 2006 to end Tehran's defiance.
India, however, could be in a bind if the US and its allies in the European Union go ahead with unilateral sanctions that plans to target Iran's energy sector as it has potential to hurt New Delhi's energy security interests.
New sanctions target Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard and include freezing the assets of 40 additional companies and organizations -- 15 linked to the guards, 22 involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities and three linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
The sanctions also bar Iran from pursuing "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons," investing in nuclear-related activities like uranium mining, and buying some categories of heavy weapons, including attack helicopters and missiles.
The Iranian issue figured in discussions Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with US President Barack Obama in Washington and with the leaders of Russia and China at BRIC summit in Brazil in April.
In these meetings, Manmohan Singh underlined India's traditional ties with Iran and voiced opposition to sanctions that, in New Delhi's view, end up hurting the common people.
While India believes that a nuclear powered Iran is not in the interests of regional stability, it has consistently advocated dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme and supported Tehran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the purview of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In November last year, India had backed an international resolution against Iran but qualified it by saying it is opposed to "a renewed punitive approach or sanctions" and stressed the need for "keeping doors open for dialogue".
This was the third time in the last five years India had voted against Tehran’s nuclear programme.