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September 27, 2005

IRAN:  A 'CHECKERED HISTORY' LEADS TO IAEA CENSURE

KEY FINDINGS

**  Most Iranian commentators urge Tehran "not to cave in to the [Sept 24] resolution."

**  Although Russia and China abstain, "Tehran should view the resolution seriously."

**  India's "attitude" and vote for the resolution comes wrapped in complexity.

**  Diplomacy vs threats: "Disagreement remains" with "no solution in sight."

MAJOR THEMES

'Tehran and the rest of the world'--  One Iranian outlet admitted repeated diplomatic mistakes ahead of the Sept 24 IAEA "resolution pulling up Iran for its violations."  But most, including the English-language Tehran Times and Kayhan International, urged Iran to withstand the "pressure and blackmail"; move to "withdraw from the NPT"; and be "prepared to face any outcome."  Iranian papers saw Western efforts to advance the "tough resolution" as "sheer desperation."  English-language Iran Daily said the West "no longer" can speak of "consensus," echoing sub-continent writers who noted consensus "eluded" voters in Vienna.  Other writers questioned Tehran's aim to share "its nuclear technology with the Muslim world," and its need for nuclear energy, being the world's holder of the second-largest oil and natural gas deposits.

Counting on "powerful advocates" Russia and China--  A German analyst noted that "Russian and Chinese veto-power continue to be guided by economic interests";  Russia has "profitable nuclear business" with Iran, and China is "an important consumer of Iranian oil," Austria's centrist Die Presse added.  For these reasons, Japan's conservative Sankei wrote, they "abstained from voting on the resolution, as did many developing nations."  Lending a minority perspective, Iran's  Aftab-e Yazd opined, "The decision by China, Russia and the NAM countries to abstain...shows we should not test things that have been tested several times."

Indians give mixed reviews to India's vote--  For India, the Iran vote gave rise to "controversy at the international level" and "back home."  The centrist Times Of India proclaimed the "fact that the Iranian nuclear program was courtesy of the Pakistanis tipped the scales" for India to vote against Iran.  One anayst countered that "India played a pivotal role in modifying the resolution from one calling for immediate action to one giving it an open-ended outcome."  Some centrist and leftist outlets chided the ruling regime for throwing an "old and trusted friend...to the wolves."  Other leftists called the vote "shameful," but the centrist Tribune declared that for the first time, with good reason, "India had to abandon the company of the nonaligned nations" and the centrist Express termed India's vote a "sign of maturity."

Diplomacy confronts "Iranian threats of punitive action"--  "Threats" are a main characteristic of the "Iranian nuclear program" declared a German writer as India's Hindustan Times highlighted Iran's threat to "retaliate against those upholding the IAEA board."  The outlet held India influenced "The open-ended resolution [that] leaves significant space for diplomacy and for Iran to come up with more than declaration and threats to assure the world that it is not making nuclear weapons."  An Iranian analyst asked, "Are we alone?"  He reflected also on India's never having taken a "hostile stance toward Iran" and the "weakness of our diplomacy."

Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

EDITOR:  Rupert D. Vaughan

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 46 reports from 13 countries over September 23- 27, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.

EUROPE

GERMANY:  "Arms Modernization"

Nikolaus Busse noted in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/26):  "Threats have become a main characteristic of the Iranian nuclear program.  That is why it is not surprising that the Tehran leadership reacted with a rhetorical arms modernization to the most recent IAEA resolution....  In a comparable situation in the past, Iran impeded the work of UN inspectors or started up one of the nuclear facilities that have caused so much distrust abroad.  If this situation is to repeat, the Europeans should not let themselves be put off.  Much too often they created the impression of appeasement and a willingness to make concessions once the Iranians acted in a very self-confident manner.  If the Russian and Chinese veto powers continue to be guided by economic interests, it would be time to think about independent EU steps against Iran.  It would be strange anyway to trade and cultivate political relations with a country that ignores European wishes."

ITALY:  "Photographs of Iranian Nuclear Sites: Here They Are" 

Analysis by Stefano Cingolani in elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (9/27):  “The United States has begun an information campaign to convince [the world] that Iran has already built plants capable of producing nuclear bombs.  The slides showing photos of the sites...are self-explanatory.  Many clues lead to the rational conclusion that the Iranian nuclear program, it its advanced phase, has more than just civilian purposes....   But...those spy photos are not enough, real spies are needed, those who gather information and evidences of what is happening in Arak or in other sites.  This is particularly difficult in a country like Iran, which has been less ‘porous’ than hoped for by U.S. and Israeli intelligence services.  This is a strategic dilemma dividing the CIA and the Pentagon.  A dilemma that dramatically started in Iraq.  One could also say that Nicola Calipari’s death could be read as part of that political-cultural conflict.  It is also clear that  the CIA failed in Iraq, the false evidence of weapons of mass destruction cannot be blamed on the Pentagon, or on the intelligence services of the allies.  However, today, U.S. intelligence has done a self-critique and is reconsidering its ‘modus operandi....  In the case of Iran, the Bush Administration is not easing up, but it is at least  being more realistic....  Europeans want to insist on diplomacy.”

RUSSIA:  "Nuclear Crisis"

Business-oriented Kommersant editorialized (9/26):  "Last Saturday the IAEA’s governing body in Vienna passed a very tough resolution on the Iran nuclear program.   It contains obviously unacceptable demands that Tehran says it will not comply with.   The Vienna vote outcome is a clear victory for Washington, as it has been working a year to have the IAEA condemn Tehran.   With the new resolution, a non-peaceful settlement of the Iran-U.S. conflict seems almost unavoidable."

"Russia Is The Chief Loser"

Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (9/26):  "The IAEA resolution may only seem sensational.  While it contains an unexpected element-after all, the IAEA for a long time resisted passing a stern verdict, viewing it as the last resort-the Vienna decision could not fail to come, as the negotiations between Tehran and the IAEA over the past few months looked more like a dialogue of the deaf.   The worst part of it all is that, as Iran prepares to brave UN Security Council sanctions, Russia will end up as the chief loser, whatever the outcome of the confrontation between Tehran and the rest of the world.  All it can do under the circumstances is try and minimize the damage.  Continuing to stand up for Iran and helping it avoid punishment for refusing to cooperate with the IAEA will seriously damage Moscow’s relations with the West, impaired as they are.  Russia’s abstention in the Vienna vote reflects confusion, as it hopes to go on sitting on two chairs at once, trying to maintain good relations with both U.S. President George Bush and new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Why does Moscow find itself in such a plight?   This is the price it has to pay for years of trying to please everyone starting from Yeltsin’s days when it signed a secret Gore-Chernomyrdin memorandum, pledging itself to phase out (nuclear) cooperation with Tehran while extending a helping hand to Iranian 'comrades' at the same time."

AUSTRIA:   "Cries Of Outrage In Tehran"

Foreign affairs writer for centrist daily Die Presse Burkhard Bischof analyzed (9/26):  "In this tough nuclear poker game, the Iranians still have trumps:  They have the option to stall, which they have threatened to do,leaving the NPT and continuing their uranium enrichment program.  They can also try touse the oil weapon to pressure those who are wavering into supporting their cause. And they can count on powerful advocates:  Russia--that does not wish to put its profitable nuclear business with Iran at risk; China--an important consumer of Iranian oil; and finally a number of states such as Venezuela or South Africa that regard the western demand for non-proliferation and strict control of nuclear technology as an obsession directed against developing countries.  The nuclear conflict with Iran has entered a new, difficult and dangerous phase.  As long as disagreement remains as to how to approach the issue, no solution is in sight."

"Losers In The Nuclear Conflict"

Foreign affairs editor for independent daily Der Standard Gudrun Harrer commented (9/26):  "There are only losers in the latest episode of the nuclear conflict with Iran....  The most important question is now how Iran will act.  In view of the fact that there is a new government in Tehran, prognosis is difficult.  Nobody knows what the new Iranian foreign policy will look like after the reformers have left the scene.  Perhaps even Tehran does not know.  At any rate, the Islamic Republic is facing the most important strategic decision in its history.  How much does it value its new 'techno-nationalism?'  Is it worth a breach with the West--with the risk that Iran's ascent to central regional power status is stopped and it isolates itself from the West politically and economically? Another question is whether Tehran is aware that insistence on a nuclear option or even, at some later point, nuclear weapons will not serve to enhance its security but the lack of it?"

SPAIN:  "Iran, Encouraged"

Left-of-center daily El País wrote (9/24): "Tehran has good reasons to maintain its intransigence.  Some of them have to do with the unstoppable bogging down of Washington in Iraq or the natural disasters that are shaking the oil heartland of the U.S....  Other reasons are related to influential allies, like Russia and China, both of which are members of the IAEA and have a veto right in the Security Council....  India has also important gas agreements.  None of these countries want to jeopardize their interests.  The dilemma for Washington and the EU is that attaining a resolution with forceps in Vienna may crack the already divided supervisory organization and end up making their message against Iran irrelevant."

MIDDLE EAST

ISRAEL:  "Ahmadinejad's Smile"

Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (9/27):  "[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad came to the UN to examine the limits of his power versus America and its European partners.... The result was not in Ahmadinejad's favor.  The Europeans kept their promise to Israel, and last Saturday achieved a small majority for a resolution against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency.... Israel commended the 'step in the right direction' and senior officials predicted that in the next round in November, the decisions will have teeth.  The Iranian response sounded, how embarrassing, like Israel's responses to the resolutions against it in the UN and the International Court of Justice.  The nuclear confrontation is not over and it is not clear whether Iran will get the bomb before it caves in to the pressures.  Russia and China are supporting it and the world oil market will have difficulty coping with another price rise because of sanctions on Iran.  Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad can smile.  The good news is that despite the chaos in Iraq and the destruction in New Orleans, America has not retreated into its shell but is still dictating the international and regional agenda.  This raises the hope that the West will succeed in stopping the threatening Iranian project after all."

ASIA PACIFIC

CHINA:  "Iran And EU Both Talk Tough, But There Is Still Space To Maneuver"

Yao Li and Yu Huo commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (9/23):  "Although the situation between Iran and the EU has become tense, there are still spaces to maneuver.  First, the U.S. has concerns about placing sanctions on Iran through the UN.  The U.S. needs Iran's help on the Iraq issue.  Iran is also the second largest oil exporting country in OPEC.  Second, the EU feels forced to submit the Iran issue to the Security Council.  It did not want to overly agitate Iran and still hopes they can return to negotiation.  Third, it is still possible that Iran would make compromises.  Iran probably needs some time to evaluate the outcome of North Korea's compromise and then determine its next step in negotiation.  Fourth, Russia's position is obvious: this is the best way to urge the three EU countries to continue negotiation with Iran and avoid UN involvement.  Given the current situation, the likely result is that the IAEA would persuade the EU to give Iran another chance and urge Iran to cooperate with the three EU countries."

JAPAN:  "Iran's Risky Nuclear Brinkmanship"

The business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (9/27):  "The international nuclear nonproliferation regime is facing a challenge from two countries: North Korea and Iran....  On Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution stating that the Iran case should be referred to the UNSC, if necessary.  The resolution was adopted with the support of 22 of the 35 countries represented on the IAEA board of directors. Though Russia and China abstained from voting, Iran should view this resolution seriously.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows signatories to use atomic power for peaceful purposes, and Iran certainly has this right. It has, however, concealed its nuclear development over the past 20 years and has repeatedly blocked inspections. Considering this checkered history, Tehran will have no choice but to accept some restrictions on its use of nuclear power....  In its negotiations with Britain, Germany, and France...Iran has not compromised on its policy of securing its own nuclear fuel cycle. This past August, the country resumed uranium conversion, while threatening to begin uranium enrichment. This is a policy of brinkmanship. The IAEA resolution urges Iran to accept strengthened inspections, suspend uranium conversion, and ratify the IAEA's Additional Protocol, which will allow surprise inspections.  IAEA chief El-Baradei will continue to try to persuade Iran.  This country should accept the demands stipulated in the resolution."        

"Preventing Iran from Becoming A 'Second North Korea'"

The conservative Sankei editorialized (9/26): "The board of directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with the support of the U.S., Japan, and European nations, approved a resolution calling on Iran to freeze all uranium-enrichment activities and continue talks with the IAEA, stating that there were numerous instances of Tehran violating IAEA safeguards. We welcome the IAEA's notification to Iran that adequate proof that nuclear power is being used peacefully is a prerequisite to nuclear development, the same approach taken at the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs. We are concerned, however, that the U.S., China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan, all of whom jointly urged North Korea to scrap its nuclear programs, were divided over Iran, forcing the IAEA to make an unprecedented majority decision. The IAEA resolution touched on the need to refer the case to the UN Security Council in the future, a move which could lead to economic sanctions, which in turn would likely harden Iran's stance.... We are left with basic doubts as to why Iran is insisting on spending a large amount of money to develop nuclear power despite the fact that it holds the world's second-largest confirmed deposits of oil and natural gas.... Russia, which is continuing its nuclear cooperation with Iran and China, which has become increasingly dependent on Iranian oil, abstained from voting on the resolution, as did many developing nations.... What is most important at present is preventing Iran from withdrawing from the IAEA framework and becoming a 'second North Korea.'"

INDONESIA:  "Iran Nuclear Issue To UN Security Council"  

Leading independent daily Kompas wrote (9/27):  “Tension over Iran’s nuclear program is not expected to subside now that it has been taken to the UN Security Council.  Iran has been trapped by U.S. intentions to take the issue to the UN Security Council, with the argument of trying to avoid it becoming a bilateral issue.  The U.S. wants to use the UN as a shield; to impose sanctions on Iran while avoiding international condemnation, as happened with Iraq.  Since the beginning, the U.S. has been hiding behind the nuclear issue while really targeting Iran for its oil, as was the case with Iraq.  The nuclear issue is just a pretext.  In the context of geopolitical and geo-economic competition, energy is a very strategic commodity and it is possible that in the contention between the U.S. and China, the issue will play a central role.  The assumption that China’s economy will be rocked by the rise in oil prices has so far proven untrue.  However, the soaring prices of oil amidst fierce competition between giant countries has put developing countries, including Indonesia, in trouble.”

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA:  "A Fine Balance"

The centrist Times Of India editorialized (9/27): "New Delhi has played it just right by buying time for Iran before it is referred to the Security Council for violating the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, while going along with the IAEA resolution pulling up Iran for its violations.  India has said that it is against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, but diplomacy should be used to settle differences. The role it played in the IAEA has been consistent with this stand.  To say that it should not have voted as it did because it is friendly with Iran is a non sequitur; it is also friendly with the U.S., the EU and other parties concerned. And it is not in its own interest to have a nuclear Iran in its neighborhood....  Recent statements by Tehran, such as the announcement that it will share its nuclear technology with the Muslim world, are bound to stoke fears of runaway nuclear proliferation. Tehran has brusquely told New Delhi that since it is a non-aligned nation, it has to vote against or abstain from any IAEA strictures. Nobody should be able to take New Delhi for granted--it should send out a clear signal that it is not in the boy scout league any more, and that the days of reflexive Third World solidarity, no matter what the issue, are over. The Left's reaction is predictable--it acts on the basis of the theological premise that anything in which the Americans are involved must be opposed. Since the BJP does not share this premise, its reaction, tallying with the Left, is stranger."

"The Unravelling Of India's Persian Puzzle"

Siddharth Varadarajan provided this analysis in the left-of-center Hindu (9/27):  "For all its pretensions to a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, India on Saturday flunked its first real test as a rising world power.  Where no less than 11 countries smaller and less powerful than us--Venezuela, Algeria, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Yemen--had the courage and good sense to join Russia and China in refusing to endorse the U.S.-backed agenda of confrontation with Iran, India threw in its lot with Washington and the European troika.  Scared by a well-choreographed bout of shadow boxing at the start of Congressional hearings on the July 18 Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, the Manmohan Singh Government convinced itself that it had to side with Washington's unreasonable pressure on Iran. In doing so, the Government has betrayed its own lack of strategic confidence--this at a time when the fine print of the nuclear deal is about to be negotiated and the slightest sign of diplomatic weakness will be used by Washington to push the envelope on issues like the scope of international safeguards and inspections India must accept in order to see the July 18 agreement through....  The U.S. needed India to provide a cover of credibility for the unreasonable indictment against Iran and the Manmohan Singh Government happily went along. That is why U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns has hailed India's vote as "a blow to Iran's attempt to turn this into a developed world versus developing world debate."

"An India-First Policy"

The nationalist Hindustan Times commented (9/27): "Critics Of the government's stand on Iran's nuclear cheating display strange logic. They seem to argue that New Delhi must protect and preserve Iran's national interests, not those of India. Iran has made the case that its 18-year history of deceiving the International Atomic Energy Agency is based on its inalienable right to acquire civilian nuclear technology. Our domestic critics say that India must not further its own national interest by voting along with the U.S. and Europe with whom it is negotiating a path-breaking agreement to end their embargo of our technology and fuel-starved civil nuclear program.  Let's be clear about one thing. The issue on hand is not a technical violation of IAEA rules, but about politics--of both the international and domestic variety. The communist logic is consistent with their ideological history of putting national interests of other countries before those of their own.  Iran has not helped its own cause by rejecting the EU offer of nuclear fuel and technology. Instead, its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blustered that Iranian nuclear technology would be on offer to the Islamic world--mind you, not to the Non-Aligned Movement for whom the Left's heart bleeds. The government has done the right thing by upholding the EU-3's position on the Iranian violations of the NPT. The EU-3 -Britain, France and Germany -- who sponsored the resolution are no U.S. stooges."

INDIA:  "Sign Of Maturity" 

The centrist Indian Express wrote (9/27): "In deciding to vote in favor of the European resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency on Saturday and demanding that Iran comply with its nuclear obligations, the government has signaled a new maturity in India’s foreign policy. In one stroke, India has told the world that it will follow its own interests in deciding on global issues. India is saying ... that it means what it says when claiming to be a responsible nuclear weapon power....  Even as the government receives bouquets on the decision from North America and Europe, it will also face inevitable brickbats, especially from the Left which believes independent foreign policy is about opposing the U.S. on every issue and from many others who continue to long for the comforts of non-aligned platitudes. India must also brace itself for negative reaction from Tehran that could include threats to cut off energy cooperation....   Having asserted its own interests, India must now break out of the false framing of the current debate as a choice between Washington and Tehran. In explaining its vote at Vienna, the government has underlined the growing tension in the world today between the right to develop nuclear energy and the importance of preventing non-proliferation."

"There Is Still Time"

The pro-economic-reforms Business Standard editorialized (9/27):  "Last Saturday, the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency met to decide what needed to be done about Iran’s civilian nuclear program ... In plain language, the IAEA resolution implies that the IAEA is not 100 per cent sure that Iran is not making a nuclear bomb ... India too voted-against Iran....  This has upset some people who see American pressure-which must be a fact, given the evidence at hand. But has India really done the wrong thing?...  Iran was always recognized as the test case. In return for good behavior, it will get nuclear power plants and technology from the West. The main question then is: in foreign policy, should governments be “pragmatic” or stick to the Left’s notion of political morality, even if it means injuring the country?  The answer is clear even if it makes you squirm.  That said, the U.S. seems to have scored a diplomatic victory by hectoring everyone on the issue and bringing it to a boil. The question is, what next?... No one really wants another major confrontation in West Asia."

"A Turnaround"

The centrist Asian Age remarked (9/27):   " India’s decision to vote in support of the U.S. and European Union-led resolution against Iran in the crucial International Atomic Energy Agency meeting on September 24, was such a sudden diplomatic turnaround that it has taken everyone by surprise. By throwing an old and trusted friend like Tehran to the wolves, the UPA government has committed a betrayal which has not met with approval of either its right-wing adversaries or left allies....  The UPA government has denied that its decision had anything to do with the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement.  But the denial has convinced no one....  New Delhi should have chosen the middle path by abstaining like a dozen countries including Russia and China. This could have been a principled and pragmatic stand and would have ruffled the feathers of neither the U.S. and the EU nor Iran....  It is true that foreign policy should not remain hostage to old mindsets, but in an effort to chart a new course, a delicate balancing act is needed."

"Wise Decision"

The centrist Tribune editorialized (9/27):  "Ultimately, India decided to go along with the EU and the U.S., and the resolution...was adopted. This was the best course available to protect India’s own interests. For the first time, perhaps, India had to abandon the company of the nonaligned nations, but this was unavoidable. As a self-confident nation, India had to choose this independent course in view of the emerging global reality....  India had to play its card in a manner so that its own interests like the nuclear deal with the U.S. were not jeopardized. Moreover, India opposing the IAEA resolution or abstaining from the voting on it would have amounted to siding with those involved in nuclear proliferation activities. This would have dented India’s image as a responsible nuclear power, opposed to any proliferation activity anywhere in the world. Yet, India should not be seen as having ditched its old friend Iran at this critical juncture. Iran must be thankful to India for earning this breather, which can be used to find a last-minute solution to the problem.  Iran should give a fresh thought to India’s suggestion of becoming 'flexible' and satisfy the international community that it has no intention of developing weapons of mass destruction....  When it comes to the crunch, every country has to take care of its own interests first."

"Don't Oppose For Its Own Sake"

The Mumbai edition of left-of-center English-language Daily News And Analysis editorialized (9/27):  “The Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party, representing two extremes of Indian politics, have criticized the ruling United Progressive Alliance, which is dominated by the Congress, for having taking a ‘dramatic u-turn’ on its policy towards Iran’s nuclear posture.  In truth, there is no u-turn, merely a strong reiteration of a long held position, but that is another matter.  What is more interesting--and certainly more significant--is that the long held consensus on Indian foreign policy is now close to breaking down....    It is hardly expected that all parties would agree on everything, but criticizing for its own sake is no way to respond to crucial foreign policy issues.  The government’s critics should ask: Does the country gain by self-consciously opposing the United States in every international issue even when its own interest and common strategic sense suggests otherwise?  As in Iran.”

"Moving Away From Non-Alignment"

The Mumbai edition of centrist Marathi daily Sakaal expressed the view (9/27): “India's vote in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Commission finding Iran in non-compliance with its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations amounts to a daring shift in its foreign policy.  India’s allies in the non-aligned movement abstained from voting and thereby indirectly supported Iran. Iran had also expected a similar neutral response from India....  The left Parties in India have started their dogmatic campaign against the Congress-led government alleging that India has now openly begun to serve the U.S. interests.  The Bharatiya Janata Party, obviously due to political interests, has also joined the Left Parties in the tirade against Prime Minister Mammohan Singh.  There is no denying the fact that the U.S. has been an opportunist in global politics.  Any superpower is likely to play power games, just as the U.S. does.  However, no superpower has so far been able to exert overt pressure on India.  India’s leadership has never so far allowed that.  India has remained sufficiently non-aligned for a considerable span.  However, non-alignment cannot be achieved in absolute terms.  India lost many international allies due to the lack of flexibility in its foreign policy in the past.  Manmohan Singh has therefore cleverly won the trust of the bigger nations by urging Iran to comply with international obligations in its nuclear program.  India is likely to benefit from this move."

"India's Vote Against Iran"

The Chennai-based pro-BJP Tamil daily Dinamani wrote (9/27): "India's vote in favor of the resolution adopted by the IAEA triggered strong criticism from political parties including Communists and BJP. Communist parties have alleged that India has succumbed to the pressure mounted by the United States while voting against Iran. There is no evidence to prove that Iran has made arrangements to produce nuclear weapons. Few years ago, India exposed Pakistan's intentions to produce nuclear weapons. U.S. did not listen to that argument because Pakistan was its most favored country."

"Big Blunder"

Bangalore-based left-of-center English daily Deccan Herald wrote  (9/27): "India has committed a blunder by voting with the United States to refer Iran’s nuclear program to the UN Security Council. The decision is neither principled nor is it in India’s long-term national interests. Only last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that India favored giving dialogue and diplomacy a full chance in dealing with Iran. By voting to refer the issue to the Security Council, India has backtracked from that position. The U.S. applied pressure and India crumbled.  India’s decision to fall in line with the U.S. position on Iran might have been acceptable if it were in India’s interest to do so. It is not. Some have argued that the Indian vote in the IAEA will now smoothen the passage of the recent India-U.S. nuclear deal through the U.S. Congress but there is no guarantee that this will happen and there is every possibility that at the end of this drama, India will--as it has often in the past in its dealings with the U.S.--be left high and dry.  In the looming confrontation between Iran and the U.S., India has now positioned itself alongside the latter. India has enjoyed warm relations with Iran, which has met India’s energy needs and also provided Delhi an important link with the Muslim world.  Following the vote in the IAEA, India has jeopardized this time-tested relationship for an uncertain one.  India’s buckling to the U.S. is a blow to its stature as a founder-member of the non-aligned movement. It has emerged smaller from the IAEA vote....  But by getting India on its side, the U.S. has miscalculated.  India’s value to the U.S. in the Iranian nuclear crisis lay in India’s close ties with Iran and its influence in Teheran.  By pressuring India to back its position, Washington has now lost a valuable interlocutor."

"An Unwise Vote"

Secunderabad-based left-of-center English daily Deccan Chronicle opined (9/27): "New Delhi’s vote in favor of the resolution in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accusing Iran of NPT violations and holding out the possibility of referral of the issue to the UN Security Council for imposition of sanctions on Teheran has predictably attracted fierce domestic flak.  The criticism at home may well have been softer had India, along with Russia, China and many NAM countries, chosen to abstain rather than side so decisively with the U.S.-led group bent on punishing Iran for NPT breaches which have yet to be established credibly.  India’s position, as often conveyed by New Delhi to both Teheran and Washington, had consistently been that while Iran was required to observe its international obligations under the NPT, the Security Council should not be brought into the picture in haste or until it was clearly established that Iran was really embarked on a nuclear weapons program. In pursuit of this position, India tried to play a persuasive role in securing time and opportunity for dialogue and consensus within the IAEA itself to resolve the issue without confrontation. Its most viable option was to abstain, a gesture that would have sent meaningful messages all around. Instead, New Delhi now justifies its pro-resolution vote, claiming that it has helped Iran by using its influence along with that of Russia and China to delay a referral of the issue to the Security Council. The excuse is both feeble and untenable if only because the resolution has opened the door for such a referral by taking the issue out of the IAEA and leaving the initiative for anti-Iran action entirely in the hands of the US and its allies. However, India’s vote has exposed its vulnerability to U.S. pressures in the context of the faithful and unconditional discharge of American responsibilities and obligations in pushing through the civilian nuclear agreement. The pro-resolution vote has demonstrated that New Delhi has succumbed to Washington’s pressures unmindful of its professed commitment to an independent foreign policy and non-alignment."

"India's U-Turn On Iran's Nuclear Program"

The Mumbai edition of the centrist Gujarati daily Gujjaratmira editorialized (9/26):  “Iran’s nuclear program has become center of controversy at the international level.  Now, even India, has been dragged in this controversy.  India’s vote in support of the IAEA resolution on Iran, will certainly give rise to controversy back home.  It is surprising that India, which enjoys positive bilateral ties with Iran, decided to support the resolution that will eventually bring Tehran’s nuclear program before the UN Security Council.  Besides, India is also working on a gas pipeline project with Iran to meet its domestic energy requirements.  India’s recent move has raised question marks on the future of this project.  The U.S., from the very beginning, was not in favor of Indo-Iran gas pipeline project.  It is high time India understands that the U.S. is only trying to create obstacles.  America’s policies are designed in such a manner that it best serves its domestic interests.  India, too, should adopt policies that will best serve its domestic concerns.  India has still not received U.S. support on the expansion of Security Council.  India should, therefore, learn on how far it should go out of its way to support the U.S. in such matters.”

"Cowardly"

Chennai based left-of-center English evening daily NewsToday penned (9/26):  "It passes understanding why India has done what it has by teaming with the hegemonists on the Iranian nuclear issue.  India has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.  It has managed to become a nuclear weapon state in a more blatant manner than is alleged against Iran. It is aware of the fact that international inspectors had certified that Teheran had answered nine out of ten commitments under the NPT.  Both the U.S. and Britain are notorious for drawing the wool over the eyes of the international inspectors by cleverly diverting their visits away from sensitive spots. That is a conspiracy of silence abetted in to some extent by international inspectors who are afraid of rubbing Uncle Sam or Colonel Blimp on the wrong side. Iran is suspected of doing the same trick, of which there is little evidence much less awareness unlike as in the case of the U.S. and Britain.  The whole world knows but not New Delhi that the agenda of Bush is to make an Iraq of Iran by discovering a false alibi as usual.  Of course, to set the record straight, New Delhi does not wish to appear that it knows all this. Though it pretends that it had not been pressured to vote with the U.S. everyone, who has been following, knows that the Indo-U.S. dialogue, that has culminated in the agreement on civilian nuclear pursuits, which form the core of the discussion, that such pressure was the force behind Bush's plea with the Congress to ratify the agreement.  India, according to Bush , will be helped to become a big power....   On the other side, there are the other countries of the non-aligned movement which have abstained from supporting the U.S. stance. That the alleged leader of NAM has walked back on them would only breed reservations among them against India.  Also, if New Delhi is interested in preserving its image in Asia, should it not have followed the example of China which abstained ? The outcry against this diplomatic thunder may compel India to mend the fences some way but the credibility it has lost among the world community and its NAM partners cannot be retrieved."  them now." 

"India's Shameful Vote Against Iran"

The left-of-center Hindu editorialized (9/26):   "The decision to vote adversarially against Iran at Saturday's crucial meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency is evidence of the Manmohan Singh Government's shameful willingness to abandon the independence of Indian foreign policy for the sake of strengthening its 'strategic partnership' with the United States.... The only major outstanding question is the extent of the Iranian centrifuge research program. At the very least, the resolution steps up the pressure on Iran in infringement of its sovereign rights.  The craven vote of September 24 underlines the fact that Indian foreign policy suffers from insecurity, a poor understanding of the realities of the international situation, a lack of confidence in the nation's strategic weight, and an absence of belief in, or commitment to, genuine independence and non-alignment....  Instead of recognizing...the fact that American demands on Iran will be unending, the United Progressive Alliance Government has compromised the national interest by helping to prepare the ground for another possible conflict in India's own region. Even at this eleventh hour, the Government must change course.  When the subject of Iran comes up for discussion in the Board of Governors meeting in November, it must not support any European or U.S. move to take the matter to the Security Council."

"India's IAEA Vote Was Decided In Advance"

Amit Baruah provided this analysis the left-of-center Hindu (9/26):  "India's decision to vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board meeting on Saturday was not taken overnight....  Nor did it find itself in the company of China and Russia, which, like South Africa and Malaysia, abstained from voting against the resolution sponsored by the EU-three....  India itself cast a gravely qualified vote at the IAEA, revealing what a rhetorical tightrope it has had to walk in recent weeks on the issue of Iran's nuclear program.  In our explanation of [the] vote, we have clearly expressed our opposition to Iran being declared as non-compliant with its safeguards agreements. Nor do we agree that the current situation could constitute a threat to international peace and security ... the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said on Saturday night.  One can only wonder why India did not abstain from the vote at the meeting, like so many others did, when it had problems with the resolution. That would have been the honorable course to adopt....  It should also be borne in mind that India has all along been supportive of the EU-3 initiative to negotiate a fair and reasonable understanding with Iran on this issue. Our support to the resolution should also be seen against this background.... On Saturday, in the IAEA board in Vienna, India failed to demonstrate that its foreign policy remained immune to outside pressure."

"Answers Please"

The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (9/26):  "India's action in voting in favor of the resolution moved by Britain, France and Germany (EU-3) at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) Governing Board meeting, for referring Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), raises serious questions....  The first question that needs to be asked in the context of last Saturday's voting is what accounted for such a change in India's stand, particularly since this country has a long history or friendship and cooperation with Iran?...  If India has succumbed to pressure, then it has set a dangerous precedent for the exercise to be repeated in future. This, again, raises serious questions about the future of Indo-U.S. relations as well as the wisdom of India's entering into the nuclear deal it did with the U.S. on July 18 this year. What President George Bush gave to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a promise to try his best to get the U.S. to treat India as a nuclear power despite its not having signed the NPT. On the other hand, the July 18 agreement requires India to drastically refashion its nuclear policy in a manner that may seriously restrict its nuclear research and pursuit of a nuclear weapons program that meets its strategic needs. What is going on? The country needs to know."

"Bird In Hand Is Worth Two In Bush"

Manoj Joshi provided this analysis in the Hindustan Times (9/26):  "There is an interesting irony in India's stand in backing a resolution criticizing Iran's violation of the Non-proliferation Treaty at the board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  No, it is not that India is not an NPT signatory.  It is that New Delhi is acting to ensure access to the same technology that Iran says is vital for its energy future and for which it has been deceiving the IAEA and arousing the suspicions of the international community.  Clearly, India decided that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, no pun intended. While the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline remains to be negotiated, the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement is poised delicately in the U.S. Congress. Any Indian waffling on the Iran vote would have cost India the agreement crafted with so much difficulty and upon which India's future energy requirements rest.  In the process--if we are to take Iranian threats of punitive action against those who voted against it seriously--India may have jeopardized its near term requirements of hydrocarbons.  But it can be rest comforted that it has done so to seek exactly what Tehran claims is vital for its energy future--civilian nuclear technology.   Consensus may have eluded the vote on Iran's violation of the NPT at the IAEA board meeting, but there should be no doubts about the message.  India played a pivotal role in modifying the resolution from one calling for immediate action to one giving it an open-ended outcome....   The open-ended resolution leaves significant space for diplomacy and for Iran to come up with more than declaration and threats to assure the world that it is not making nuclear weapons....  Iran's threat to retaliate against those who are upholding the IAEA board may not quite have the bite.  It may want to make an example of New Delhi, but it would not want to cross Britain, France and Germany together, even with the blessings of Russia and China.  Striking a heroic pose is one thing, living in the real world quite another.  The practical Iranians are unlikely to follow Saddam's path."

"PAK Link Tipped The Scales"

Indrani Bagchi analyzed in the centrist Times Of India (9/26): "Pursuing Iran's nuclear interests would have hurt India's interests.  That was the final assessment by the foreign office, which proved to be the tipping point for India to take the unprecedented step of aligning itself with the European Union on Iran.  India's vote did not happen out of the blue-it was endorsed by the cabinet committee on security. By the time the Indian foreign policy leadership came up for air from the U.S. administration sponsored Iran-barrage in New York.  It actually creaked from the burden of expectations the U.S. had piled on.  It was clear fro the start that the U.S. was intent on dragging Iran over hot coals in the UN Security Council.  Russia did not deliver, Putin, having told the U.S. off in no uncertain terms ... China was fresh from having delivered North Korea into the waiting arms of the U.S. non-proliferation lobby.  Beijing wasn't willing to walk another mile for the U.S.  India was left.  New Delhi was already working with the U.S. to change global nuclear laws to accommodate it.  It would have been counterproductive for India to weigh in on the side of the proliferators, having worked so hard to create some space for itself in the global nuclear market.  Realistically speaking, it was a great moment to turn the screws on India.  India could actually count the benefits that it had reaped.  After the U.S.-India nuclear deal in July, the UK resumed dual-use supplies and other NSG-plus countries are likely to follow suit soon. India is virtually part of the high-profile ITER project and the U.S. has been openly using its clout within the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to lobby for India.  The U.S.-Congress and the predatory non-proliferation lobby was hanging India for even thinking of supporting Iran....   At the UN, Iran and Egypt worked overtime against India in drafting the Outcome Document-by demanding that all countries should abide by the NPT. The NPT is a very sensitive issue for India and Iran knows it, but Iran showed scarce sensitivity to Indian concerns.  From Vienna, Indian officials were reporting that Iran was actively colluding with Pakistan against India.  None of this gave any cheer to New Delhi.  And finally, the fact that the Iranian nuclear program was courtesy of the Pakistanis tipped the scales."

"No-Choice Delhi Votes With U.S."

Washington-based Diplomatic Editor K.P. Nayar wrote in the centrist Telegraph (9/25) :  “Caught between the devil and deep sea, India today decided to make the best of a bad situation in Vienna by voting with the European Union and the U.S. on a resolution…requiring Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council at an unspecified date to be in doubt about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program....  As soon as the vote was over, Matt Boland...came out and told reporters that the fact India backed the resolution showed New Delhi shared the ‘concern with Iran’s established pattern of deception’.  What Boland did not say was that before India voted with the EU and the U.S., it had engaged in intense negotiations with France, Germany, Britain and the U.S. to ensure that they did not ride roughshod over Iranian interests.  At India’s behest, the Europeans amended their resolution, which initially called for an immediate reference of the Iranian crisis to the UN Security Council. They also agreed, at India’s request, to give more time within the IAEA for negotiations. Once these were done, South Block took the view that it would be churlish to vote against a resolution, where Indian concerns have been accommodated....  The alternative for India was to abstain, but it was felt that after all the efforts to secure a compromise resolution, it was pragmatic to vote.”

"Pressure On Iran"

Bangalore-based independent Kannada daily Prajavani wrote (9/26):  “The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board has approved a resolution that sets up Iran for future referral to the UN Security Council. It is alleged that India has succumbed to the pressure of America as it voted in favor of the resolution. However, India has substantiated its stand, but still the clouds of suspicion loom large over it. The recent move of IAEA provides sufficient ground to UNSC for imposing economic sanctions against Iran. Before taking such a harsh measure, it would be fair to give another chance to Iran as Iran is clarifying that it doesn’t have any intention to develop a nuclear weapons. If that is to be true, Iran should allow inspection of its nuclear reactors and that alone would be the right way. The leaders of Iran should understand that flouting international opinion would hardly be of any help to Iran.”

"Opposed To India, Left, Right and Center"

Bharat Karnad commented in centrist The Asian Age (9/24): "It is curious how the drumbeaters for a nuclear agreement with the United States, which compromises India's security, are tying themselves into knots to explain the near insurmountable barriers to this deal cropping up in Washington.  The great majority of Delhi-based commentators strung out between the Embassy Row and the South Block, but tilting towards the former, are calling for ditching Iran for the sake of the promised American goodies.  Still others seem eager to confuse India's national interest with U.S. interests and are advising piggybacking on the European Union (EU-3) proposals requiring Iran to forsake the bomb in return for the Western offer of a reactor under IAEA safeguards.  But sacrificing the Iran-card will mean imperiling Iran's potential as a safe source for India's future energy requirements and its utility to Indian strategic policies as a Shia counterpoise to the baleful influence of Wahabi Islam of Saudi Arabi in Central Asia, and in containing a China-assisted Pakistan ... Further, it will negate any chance of India's being a bridge between Iran and the West.  It should be clear that because similarity in views on extraneous issues was no part of the reciprocity principle embedded in the Manmohan Singh-George Bush accord, giving in or Iran will lead to more such demands in the guise of 'harmonizing' approaches."

PAKISTAN:   "Dispute Of Iran's Nuclear Program"

An editorial note in the second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt (9/26):  "IAEA has passed a resolution for presenting Iran's nuclear program issue before the UN Security Council....  India has not only voted against Iran, but also advised the Iranian government to remove international apprehensions about its nuclear program....  India's attitude has proven that it is not only against Iran's nuclear program, but also against all the Muslim countries and cannot see them progressing."

"Resolution Against Iran In The IAEA"

An editorial in the populist Urdu daily Khabrain (9/26):  "The IAEA has approved the EU proposal to refer the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council....    After the matter goes to the Security Council, the IAEA would give evidence of Iran's involvement in nuclear activities. A decision will then be taken in light of that evidence.  The need is for both Iran and the European Union to consider the global scenario and desist from taking any decision that plunges the world into further devastation.  Another war would destroy world economy."

"Iran's Encirclement On The Nuclear Issue"

An editorial note in the Islamabad-based popular, pro-Jihadi Urdu Ausaf (9/26):  "The IAEA has approved sending the Iran nuclear issue to the Security Council, whereas a decision has been taken to get the CTBT signed from 11countries including Pakistan using all methods and means required for the purpose....  The presence of WMDs was used as a pretext to attack Iraq, but as of now no evidence has been found of their presence.  Eventually, the U.S. had to admit that it attacked Iraq on misleading information.  It would be unfair to pressure other countries to sign the CTBT when even the U.S. and China have not signed it."

"Resolution To Take Iran’s Nuclear Issue To Security Council"

An editorial in the Karachi-based, pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu Islam (9/26):  "The IAEA resolution against Iran is a reflection of the role of big powers in the global politics.  The allegation of making nuclear weapons on Iran is based on suspicion and till today nobody including the IAEA has proved that the Iran was using the enriched uranium for making nuclear weapons. During the IAEA meeting in Vienna consensus could not be reached on Iran issue only two days back prior to the passage of the resolution, which was being termed as the failure of the U.S. and the European Union.  But all of a sudden an agreement was reached which could be nothing else but an attempt to salvage their weak position.  The most shameful aspect of this episode was the role of India who claims to be a friend of Iran but on this occasion it voted against Iran under U.S. duress."

"Dealing With Iran"

An editorial in the Lahore-based liberal English-language The Post (9/26):  "Iran is of course emboldened by the fact that it possesses vast proven reserves of oil and gas. Any attempt to impose sanctions against it would be difficult to get through the UN Security Council in view of Russian and Chinese opposition to pillorying Tehran and the dependence of energy-deficit states on Iranian oil and gas supplies to the world market.  That is the reason why India and Pakistan are hanging on to their gas pipeline project with Iran even in the face of American pressure.  Whether Tehran will continue to look kindly at India after it voted for the IAEA resolution however, remains to be seen....  The U.S. should adopt a just and non-discriminatory nuclear policy if it wants to ensure a credible nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime worldwide."

"Pak-Iran Friendship"

An editorial in the second largest nationalist Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (9/25):  "Iranian President Dr. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad called President Musharraf on phone yesterday and thanked him for Pakistan's support in the IAEA on Iran's right to a nuclear program.  He said this support would bring an astonishing improvement in Pak-Iran relations....  Iran has the status of the most important defense support to Pakistan in the region. There is a vast scope of trade between the two countries.  Both the countries need each other, and there is great harmony between the two nations which can be improved further."

"Iran's Nuclear Conundrum"

An editorial in the center-right national English-language The Nation (9/24):  "Mr. Ahmedinejad, speaking at the parade, in an obvious reference to the U.S. and Israel, strongly warned any nation thinking of attacking its nuclear installations that it would face a 'destructive and fiery' response. Besides, Iran has earlier threatened to renounce its commitment to the NPT.  In that event, it would be technically free of non-proliferation constraints, which would be worse.  It would be folly to take Mr. Ahmadinejad's warning lightly, considering the support the enrichment enjoys among a determined Iranian people. Mr. Khurshid Kasuri has hinted at the implications of an aggressive scenario for Pakistan and the region, rent with wars, widespread terrorism and grave insecurity for over a quarter of a century, when he says that it would create unprecedented turmoil by adding a new dimension to an already abysmal situation.  Tehran's reaction would definitely be very severe and the pivotal position it occupies in the oil market would upset a global economic applecart already under pressure from rising prices."

IRAN:  "Verbal Support And Votes"

Aftab-e Yazd  remarked (Internet version 9/26):  "We always think that the verbal support of certain countries for our position is infinite and we have repeatedly made mistakes in this regard that have inflicted huge costs on the country. The decision by China, Russia and the Non-Aligned Movement countries to abstain in the anti-Iran vote at the IAEA shows that we should not test things that have been tested several times."

"Political Give And Take"

Ja'far Golabi commented in reformist Tehran E'temad (Internet Version 9/26):  "When analyzing various events, sometimes the angle of vision is of special importance and it completely influences the entire analysis....  The position adopted by India in the course of voting for the resolution proposed by the three European countries was very interesting.  After the victory of the Islamic revolution, India as a whole had never adopted a hostile stance towards Iran.  It was one of the few countries which the leading figures of the revolution had frequently visited. During the past few years its economy has had a considerable rate of growth and its internal conflicts have also reached their lowest level.  A large population, the existence of an institutionalized democracy, possessing nuclear power and a rich native culture have turned that country into a first grade Asian power, and its future outlook is also positive and promising....  India's vote could be regarded as a barometer for assessing Iran's present position in the world, and it can provide us with the opportunity to make a realistic assessment of the situation. When we lose India, then the fate of countries such as South Africa will also be clear. Of course, we apparently lost South Africa a few years ago when Nelson Mandela cancelled his visit to Iran. May be at that time nobody was aware of the losses and negative consequences of the cancellation of that visit!  In any case, India's positive vote for the resolution will clearly damage the bilateral relations and may be the gas agreement will also be lost.  However, even more important than our bilateral relations is the weakness of our diplomacy....  Are we really alone?"

"Next Steps After Betrayal Of Trust"

The English-language Iran Daily commented (Internet version 9/26):  "The support of the three European states (Britain, Germany and France) for the last Saturday's resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors was an exercise in sheer desperation....  Since only 22 out of the 35-member IAEA board voted in favor of the anti-Iran resolution, the West can no longer afford to even talk about an international consensus over Iran's nuclear program....  The systemic and perpetual manipulation of the UN by the western governments is a tragic part of the nuclear dispute....  The EU stubbornly refused to abide by its own commitments, and betrayed Tehran's trust.  Is there any logic in talking to the EU on the nuclear issue? The next logical step is to include Russia, China, South-Africa, Venezuela and NAM countries in any future nuclear negotiations."

"One Step Behind"

The English-language Kayhan International remarked (Internet version 9/26):  "The government of the Islamic Republic needs to voice its objection to the resolution in an official statement.  It must resolutely state that it will not cave in to the resolution and indeed is prepared to face any outcome.  Tehran must also announce that it will withdraw from the NPT.  The lawmakers at the Seventh Majlis did not have the necessary vision or comprehension to safeguard national interests and they have always been one step behind the opponent in the nuclear showdown.  The parliament still has the chance to go ahead with a plan for withdrawal and this time it does not even have to be on the basis of UNSC referral....  It is wrong to commit suicide because of the fear of death [since] with a bit of resistance and resolve, UNSC referral could cause little or no serious damage to the country.  Instead, it could, in the end, even bring with it some major accomplishments."

"Serving As A Model"

The English-language Tehran Times wrote  (Internet version 9/26):   "If the United States and other Western countries intend to continue their pressure and blackmail, Iran will be obliged to return to the beginning and act intimately in order to access nuclear technology. If this happens, other NPT member states might follow Iran's lead, this weakening international organizations....  The Iranian nation is currently on the crossroad of a historic decision which may alter Iran's relations with Western countries and serve as a model for all Third World states."

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