Iran's nuke prog is IAEA's headache: India

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New Delhi, Apr 23: Expounding on the snub to the US for commenting on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upcoming visit to New Delhi, India today said it was for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine whether or not Iran's nuclear programme was peaceful.

Endorsing the statement issued by his ministry yesterday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India has been suggesting to the US not to take up the responsibility of deciding whether Iran's nuclear programme was peaceful or otherwise. The United States should leave this task to the IAEA which is the designated authority and the US should let it (IAEA) do its job, he said in reply to a question at Orientation Programme for media persons covering Parliament.

On the US' exhortation to India on Iran's nuclear programme, he said the External Affairs Ministry spokesman has already commented on it. ''It is my statement....he is my spokesman.'' The spokesman said India did not need any guidance from the US on the future conduct of relations with other countries.

Asked if Iran's nuclear programme was peaceful or not, Mr Mukherjee said: ''It is not for Iran or India to determine it ......We (India) have been suggesting to the US not to take this responsibility... it should leave it to the IAEA, the designated authority.'' ''Both nations (India and Iran) are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention,'' the spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry said in response to a question.

The spokesman said the government's attention had been drawn to a comment made by the US State Department concerning the visit of President Ahmadinejad to India on April 29.

''India and Iran are ancient civilisations whose relations span centuries. Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations as both believe that engagement and dialogue alone lead to peace,'' he said.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey had told reporters in Washington that India should talk tough with Iran during Ahmadinejad's visit to New Delhi, particularly on Tehran's nuclear programme, Iraq and its alleged support to terrorism.

''We would hope that the Indian government, or any government that was engaging with the Iranians, including with President Ahmadinejad, would call on him to meet the requirements that the UN Security Council and the international community had placed on him in terms of suspending their uranium enrichment activities and complying with other requirements regarding their nuclear programme,'' the State Department spokesman said.

The Iranian President will arrive in India on a brief visit on April 29 and have talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issues of mutual interest.

This will be the first visit to India by an Iranian Head of State in five years.


UNI

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