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India's anti-Iran votes were coerced, says former US official

New Delhi, Feb 17, IRNA - A former ranking official of the Bush administration has acknowledged that India's votes against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were 'coerced'.

According to Hindu, a New Delhi-based English daily, Stephen G. Rademaker -- who quit his job as assistant secretary for non- proliferation and International Security at the US State Department last December, in a talk here on 'Iran, North Korea and the future of the NPT' at India's Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA)' said the July 2005 nuclear agreement had helped bring about a big change in India's attitude towards 'non-proliferation'.

"The best illustration of this is the two votes India cast against Iran at the IAEA," he said, adding: "I am the first person to admit that the votes were coerced."

A key role in the entire process was played by the Congressional hearings on the nuclear deal, the former State Department official noted.

"In the end, India did not vote the wrong way," he said. And India's votes against Iran, in turn, 'paved the way for the Congressional vote on the civilian nuclear proposal last year'.

The former Bush administration official claimed Iran was developing nuclear weapons and that the international community was going to have to take tougher measures to persuade Iran to change course.

"Whether there will be more UN sanctions or more measures taken outside the UN context, we'll have to see."

Russia, said Rademaker, was 'not fully cooperating' with the US.

"If the UN Security Council acts against Iran, this would make things easier for countries like India. But if things go in the direction of increasing economic pressure by a coalition of countries like the US, Europe and Japan, India will have to make a choice," he said.

India would have to decide whether to join these countries in the economic measures they took.

"It is India's prerogative to decide, but should it (not join), it would be a big mistake and a lost opportunity," he added.

As a 'first step' towards tightening the screws on Iran, India should withdraw from the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project, the former US official argued.

'This would send a strong message to Iran, while not hurting India's economic interests' because the pipeline was unlikely to be economically viable, he claimed.

"I am not sure what kind of investor would put up money for a pipeline running from Iran through Pakistan. What happens if there is an incident in Kashmir?"

Walking away from the Iran, Pakistan and India (IPI) pipeline project, said Rademaker, would, therefore, be 'a low cost way of India demonstrating its commitment to non-proliferation'.

He clarified that the US did not consider the Iran pipeline to be a 'litmus test' for India.

But scrapping the project 'would be a smart thing for India to do'.

India, he stressed, 'needs to stop thinking of itself as a Third World country... and start aligning itself with the First World countries'.

Asked about the possibility of US military action against Iran, Rademaker said, "I have never been a proponent of military strikes against Iran because I am not persuaded they would be effective." Rademaker joined the State Department in 2002 as assistant secretary of state for arms control and was put in charge of the combined bureaus of arms control and non-proliferation in 2005.

At the end of 2006, he quit the US government to take up a job with Barbour Griffith & Rogers, the lobbying firm whose clients include the Government of India.

During the time he served in the State Department, Rademaker was involved in bilateral negotiations with India on nuclear matters.

He also headed the US delegation to two meetings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group held soon after the July 2005 Indo-US nuclear deal.

Though the civil nuclear bill had now cleared Congress, said Rademaker, 'more is going to be required [of India] because the problems of Iran and North Korea have not been solved'.

The July 2005 Indo-US nuclear agreement had 'opened a door for India to further its integration with the industrialized world and it would be bad for India to squander this opportunity', Rademaker said.

"So I hope India, for its own self-interest, decides to participate in these measures)."

... Payvand News - 2/17/07 ... --

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