India Intelligence Report

   US Cautions India on Iran’s Nuke Program



  • Influential US politician warns India on support for Iran’s nuclear program

  • NAM advocated non-discriminatory rights for all nuclear non-proliferation treaty signatories

  • Indo-US civilian nuclear deal up for hearing on June 26

A key extremist politician leading the US Congress International Relations Committee warned India to act responsibly by not supporting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and not to jeopardize Indo-US civilian nuclear deal up for discussions in the Committee on June 27. The final vote in the US Congress is expected in July.

US Congressman Tom Lantos was irked by India’s recent decision to endorse a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) statement backing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which was against the decision of United States and the UN Security Council members had taken on Iran. Lantos was quoted saying "This is a very negative phenomenon and I honestly hope there will be a great deal of care taken by our Indian friends if they want this (nuclear cooperation agreement) to get through Congress and become a reality." He said that it is difficult for him to understand what other NAM states had in common with "the great democratic state of India."

The NAM resolution ignored Western concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and called for the rights, "without any discrimination," of all states to nuclear research and energy production. What the NAM asked for is not necessarily wrong or divergent from the tenets of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that Iran may have hidden nuclear programs to make bombs and India feels that that this program is not in India’s interest.

The Britain, France, and Germany have offered a package to Iran with the blessings of the US, Russia, and China and the issue seems easing a bit . However, Iran has been stalling the issue and has reiterated its right to enrich uranium  under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. While it will be true to argue its right, Iran has also hidden information on illegal procurements from Pakistan.

Lantos said the he proposes to fight “deal breakers” or amendments introduced by other lawmakers considered unacceptable to India. However, he also said that there may be "deal breakers" by India too and one of them could undoubtedly be a "blanket endorsement of the Non-Aligned Movement's statements concerning Iran."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is also finalizing the legislation to be sponsored by Chairman Richard Lugar and ranking Democrat Joe Biden but is expected to pass the amendments. House and Senate committee staffs have yet to make public the versions of the agreement they plan to put forward next week.

Some lawmakers declared they would offer amendments to the Bush administration's original proposal and some of the ideas being thrown around are:

  1. 1. Requiring India stop producing fissile material compounds that could be used to create nuclear energy for civilian or military use.

  2. 2. Create a simple majority based approval or denial for a deal in the Congress. Current administration proposal limits Congress to only being able to block the actual treaty with a two-thirds vote.

  3. 3. Unilaterally cancel the agreement if India tests a nuclear weapon or breaks IAEA nuclear safeguards.

The second item is an internal tussle within the US and India has no role in it. While India would agree to part of condition 3 dealing with maintaining IAEA safeguards, it will not accept any of the conditions. There is virtual consensus in India that it cannot be limited or constrained on its nuclear program seen as a strategic lift for India.

Meanwhile, India is exploring uranium deposits internally. If it does strike uranium in India, it does not need any deals with any country.