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Ackerman hails India's vote on Iran
By Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC | September 27, 2005 04:17 IST
The co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressman Gary Ackerman, New York Democrat, who is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee, has joined Congressman Tom Lantos, in hailing India's vote in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Commission finding Iran in non-compliance with its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations and condemning Tehran's alleged history of concealment with regard to its nuclear program.
Ackerman said, "The government of India made the right choice in voting to urge Iran to comply with its international obligations and return to negotiations with the European Union."
"I commend Prime Minister Singh for his courageous decision to stand with those nations who insist that international commitments be upheld," the lawmaker said, and noted that, "I look forward to continued cooperation between the United States and the government of India as we, and the rest of the international community, work to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons."
Earlier in the day, Lantos, California Democrat, and the highest ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, who had launched a vitriolic attack on India at the hearing on the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement on September 8, where he even ridiculed Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh as "dense" and warned that if India doesn't change its policy toward Iran in sync with US policy, the relationship would "go down the tubes", also had lauded India's dramatic turnaround in Vienna in aligning itself with the United States and the European Union and voting on the EU resolution calling for Iran to return to the negotiating table and halt the processing of highly enriched uranium.
In a statement made available to rediff.com, Lantos said, "I am pleased that New Delhi clearly heard the message that I and other members have been emphatically trying to convey," and noted, "India's support this past weekend and next November, when Iran should finally be referred to the UN Security Council for action, will go a long way to cementing our new partnership."
"These actions will certainly promote positive consideration in Congress of the new US-India agreement to expand peaceful nuclear cooperation between our two countries," he added.
At the hearing earlier this month, Lantos had declared,"My concern does not relate to the administration. My concern relates to the insensitive thinking that I see coming out of New Delhi."
He asserted that "it is incomprehensible to me that people as sophisticated and as knowledgeable as our Indian counterparts should not be aware of how significant their position vis-ŕ-vis Iran is to this Congress, and I hope that this hearing will make them aware at least tangentially that this may be destroying far more significant relationships than they are having with Tehran unless they become sensitive to our view on that subject."
Lantos said, "Iran is the single most international threat we face -- a reckless Iranian government proceeding arrogantly with the development of nuclear weapons."
Lantos at the hearing warned that "this pattern of dealing with us will not be productive for India and they have to be told this in plain English -- that this great new opening, which I support, which we all support, is predicated on reciprocity. In this case, they are not only opposing our views, they are opposing the views of he Brits, and the French and the Germans."
He said if India "persists in this, this great dream of a new relationship will go down the tubes," and reiterated that if New Delhi does not support Washington's efforts to ostracise Iran, "the goodwill will dissipate".
"They will pay a heavy price for a total disregard of US concerns vis-ŕ-vis Iran. It just will not fly in this body and they need to be told that in plain English, not in diplomatic English and I know there are people in this room who will carry this message," he added.
At that hearing, Ackerman, though far from volatile in his tone as was Lantos, had declared along with several members of the International Relations Committee -- both Democrats and Republicans -- that they associate themselves with Lantos' remarks with regard to their concern over India's support for Iran.
He had said, "I associate myself in the strongest possible terms with remarks of Mr Lantos,"and argued that, "It is important that friends do not let friends play with fire."