Delhi not to toe Washington line on Iran, Myanmar

Centres policy prompted by national and regional interests

 Though India is happy over US’ “unequivocal and explicit” endorsement of its UNSC aspirations, it is unlikely to review its policies on Iran and Myanmar – the price-tag Obama attached with Washington’s support to New Delhi’s bid for a place on the international high-table.

Sources on Tuesday said that New Delhi might not make any change in its stand on the nuclear programme of Iran and restoration of democracy in Myanmar to toe the US line on these issues.

They said that New Delhi’s stand on Myanmar and Iran had been prompted by its own national interests and its view of the situation in the region. They added that India had evolved and maintained its position on the issues “quite responsibly”.

Just after articulating US support for India’s UNSC bid in his address to the MPs in the Parliament’s Central Hall on Monday, Obama reminded New Delhi that “increased power came with increased responsibility.” In an obvious disapproval of New Delhi’s alleged soft attitude towards Tehran, the US President said that he looked forward to working with India and other nations aspiring for the UNSC permanent membership to ensure that the Council’s resolutions and the sanctions it imposed on particular countries were implemented.

He also said that India often “shied away” from strongly condemning suppression of democratic movements and gross violations of human rights in countries including Myanmar. He had on the previous day demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sources in New Delhi said that India could not take a position on Myanmar akin to that of the US.

“We (India and Myanmar) are in the same region. We have a long border with Myanmar. We have our security concerns and we will also have to keep in mind the situation in the region,” said a source, obviously referring to growing Chinese influence in Myanmar that prompted New Delhi to engage with the military rulers in Yangon.

Sources said that New Delhi too was keen to see “a stable, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Myanmar and was ready to assist the Government and people of Myanmar on their path to further political and economic progress.”

Sources pointed out that India did not favour the nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran, but New Delhi believed that as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Tehran too was entitled to all the rights that other signatories of the treaty had on peaceful uses of atomic energy. India had voted thrice against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency and abided by the United Nations sanctions.

But New Delhi did not support the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US on Iran, sources added. They underscored the fact that India’s stand on Iran would be prompted by the historical links, energy ties and trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Though United States support to India’s UNSC bid is unlikely to immediately hasten the complicated negotiations on the reforms of the world body, sources in New Delhi hoped that Obama’s explicit political statement on the issue would give momentum to the process. They however said that Pakistan and its allies were expected to block India’s UNSC bid.

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