People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 05, 2006
SPEECH IN RAJYA SABHA ON IRAN NUCLEAR ISSUE
Helping USA’s Diabolic Agenda
is the text of the speech made by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury in
Rajya Sabha while participating in the discussion on Iran nuclear issue and
I RISE here today to express my Party’s displeasure and sense of anguish over the manner in which India voted at the IAEA on the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme. Because the issues are not confined only to the specific nature of the apprehensions that Iran is developing an atomic bomb or is developing nuclear weapons. But these are issues which have a larger bearing on India’s foreign policy. I think it is a very important discussion that is taking place.
We have heard the prime minister in this house talk in terms of enlightened nationalism; we have heard the prime minister talk in terms of how this nationalism evolved over a period of time after India became independent through the process of decolonisation. It is precisely from those tenets of this enlightened nationalism, my objections and my opposition to this vote comes. This enlightened nationalism emerged in the post-colonial world, in the process of decolonisation. So, India emerged as the leader of many of these colonial countries. We took the lead and even a year before we became independent – in 1946 – we convened the Afro-Asian conference. India emerged as a leader of the former colonies in terms of setting the agenda of what should be the contours of the world and what should be the contours of international development; and as a process of that enlightened nationalism, the concept of non alignment arose.
Non alignment surely was not playing the ball between two walls and making best of the bargain. Non alignment also had a very strong, I think, a principled position – I wouldn’t call it ideological, but definitely, a principled position that India as a nation is not to be cowed down by any superpower in the world and we will take our position independently and our national role in the world. The natural role for India would be as a leader of the developing countries in the world. It is this role which was the product of that enlightened nationalism, which I think today is actually being forsaken. That is why, I speak with a sense of anguish, because all that we laid out in front of the world, we laid out in terms of diplomacy, we laid out in terms of principles of international relations, the contributions that India has made all along in this more than half a century, have all today been put to test by this particular position that we have taken. That is why this sense of anguish is there. We appreciate, on this specific issue on Iran, the prime minister in his statement has actually said: “It is our hope and belief that the issues that have arisen can still be resolved through discussion and dialogue”. It is very correct. We are very happy that this hope is there.
But where we are unhappy is that this does not rule out confrontation and that is what ought to have been India’s position – that these issues must be resolved only through dialogue and discussion, and not through confrontation. And why I am seeking this distinction in confrontation is that we believe that is precisely the path that the USA is trying to tread today. It is this confrontational path that has to be avoided. And for that, what was our position before the first vote in IAEA took place? India had set out four points and these four points were contained in the government’s official documents. The first point was India sought a negotiated settlement of the problem. The second was India acknowledged Iran’s right to conduct a peaceful nuclear programme as a signatory to the NPT regime. The third point was that India expected Iran to fulfil its commitments and obligations, as spelt out in its international agreements. And the fourth point was that India saw possibilities for resolving the problem within the framework of Iran’s cooperation within the IAEA. So, very clearly, extending beyond the framework of IAEA has never been India’s stated position and that is what we are doing right now and that is where, I think, this is a breach – a very serious breach – of our enlightened nationalism and our foreign policy when we are actually trying to take this issue beyond IAEA and become a party to the United States and to the European Union sponsored move, to take this towards United Nations Security Council. And this is where we think that this enlightened nationalism, far from being carried forward, is actually being breached. We urge upon this government that it has to do a serious rethinking on this issue and ensure that on the 6th of March, we do not vote along with the United State of America.
Why do I say this? What are India’s concerns? The prime minister in his statement has said: “Yes, we do not want any other nuclear weapon country in our region. We do not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.” Very true, very correct, I wish there was a similar concern about Israel having more than 200 nuclear weapons today. There is not a word about it; there is not a word about the proliferation. Okay, we do not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But, India’s position has always been that we not only do not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, but we also do not want nuclear weapons at all in any country in the world. What happened to the Rajiv Gandhi plan? This country had very proudly announced in the United Nations General Assembly that by the year 2005, the world should rid itself of all nuclear weapons. Rajiv Gandhi plan is dead and buried today. You have come to 2006. Nobody is talking in terms of elimination of nuclear weapons from this planet; nobody is talking of universal nuclear disarmament, and that is a serious departure from and breach of our enlightened nationalism, and that is something that this government must understand and correct.
suppose, even for a moment, Iran is pleading that it has no nuclear weapons, but
it is conducting a civilian nuclear programme. Suppose, for a moment, it is not
saying the truth, and it is actually proceeding with a nuclear weaponisation
programme. What should be the position of India and how to stop that? Yes, we do
not want them to have the nuclear weapons. Like I said, we do not want anybody
to have any nuclear weapons. But how do we stop them? What was enunciated by the
prime minister himself earlier in the four points that I have read out, the only
way is to ensure that Iran sticks to its obligations and duties under the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And the agency that can enforce that is the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). There is no scope for any other
international body to enter into this dispute, and any effort that is made to
treat this outside the IAEA is actually violating the international laws, as it
stands today, and it also violates an international legal principle called Jus
Gogens. No international treaty can be violative of the internal legal
situation of a country. This is violative of Jus
Gogens, which is a treaty accepted by the international law and the
international community, and by referring Iran outside the IAEA to the United
Nations Security Council, you are violating Jus
Gogens and international law.
India cannot be a party to such a violation.
The prime minister himself said in his statement, and I quote: “Iran did extend cooperation to the IAEA,” This is what he says. And the summary report of the Director-General of the IAEA states: “This Director-General’s report to the Board clearly stated that Iran was cooperating fully with the IAEA in terms of access and also information it had provided about its past programme have been confirmed by further investigations. The report also stated that some more time would be required to verify all claims and clarify all doubts.” Please go back a few years ago. Hans Blix, the United Nations inspector who was operating in Iraq came back and reported to the Security Council saying the same sentence: “some more time would be required to verify all claims and clarify all doubts.” However that time was not provided. The air strikes took place, the sanctions were imposed, finally, the aggression, and finally the occupation. What is being done with Iran today is exactly what was done with Iraq ten years ago. That is the blue print that is being given and the world is pushed on to that road map.
I want to quote the former IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards, Bruno Pellaud. He had said, “Iran took a major gamble in December, 2003 by allowing a much more intrusive capability to the IAEA. If Iran had a military programme, they would not have allowed the IAEA to come under this additional protocol. They do not have to.” But yet Iran did. We ourselves admit, our prime minister himself admits, that in that situation we can’t be a party to pushing Iran on to the road of Iraq and its final occupation as had happened ten years ago. I am afraid, India is actually subscribing to that particular agenda and that is where my anguish comes from. We cannot, India cannot, lend itself to such a strategy that American interests dictate globally and that is what we have to oppose.
if that is the case, what should be our stand? We have often been told, “We
have taken this stand because five permanent members of the United Nations have
taken this stand. How can we be isolated from them?”. When we said, “You
take the stand of NAM”, we were told, “The NAM is divided in three ways. You
had six countries for the motion, five countries abstaining and three countries
against the motion. Since the NAM was divided, we decided to take our
independent position”. But India’s greatness and India’s claim to a
certain distinctiveness in international politics lies in the novel suggestions
that it had made in international disputes over the last fifty years. At every
time we made a novel suggestion and there was a novel suggestion for us to make
this time also. But the government has missed the bus. The dispute about Iran is
on the question of nuclear uranium enrichment. India had an option and it could
have taken a much more imaginative position which would have addressed both sets
of issues, Iran’s sovereignty and the right to peaceful uses of nuclear
energy. What was this option? This option was a joint nuclear facility with
multinational staff to actually supervise the uranium enrichment that is taking
place in Iran. Today, the proposal is that it will be done by Russia on Russian
soil. Iran says, “No, we will do it on our soil”. Why didn’t India take up
this sort of an initiative or some sort of an alternative proposal to the world
body? If the world body had rejected it, that is a different matter. But
India’s distinctiveness lies in that and it is that distinctiveness, I am
afraid, we really abdicated in this particular situation.