India will back any United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran over the question of its nuclear weapons programme, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Council on Foreign Relations last week.
He hoped, however, that President Barack Obama's ongoing outreach programme to Teheran would result in a viable compromise, and obviate the need for such harsh action.
Interacting with the audience following his speech on foreign policy, Dr Singh said, "Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, as such it has all the rights that go with membership of the NPT -- that is, the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. At the same time, it has obligations that go with its membership and that rules out the nuclear weapons part".
"So there is no ambiguity in our position. We are quite clear in our thinking that Iran should not go the nuclear weapon path -- that is inconsistent with its obligation as a member of the NPT," he said.
Dr Singh said if Iran did not open its nuclear facilities up for inspection, and if the UNSC then passed a resolution imposing sanctions, India would back such a move.
"However, President Obama's approach has opened up a new pathway of engagement without pre-conditions, and our hope is that it will yield results," he said.
Recalling his meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki earlier this month, Dr Singh said, "He mentioned explicitly to me that Iran is encouraged by the messages it is receiving from the new Obama administration, and that he is hopeful that they would lead to constructive, productive results.'
In response to a question from Rediff-India Abroad, at a subsequent media briefing, on whether New Delhi would help facilitate the dialogue between the US and Iran, Dr Singh said India certainly had a stake in the issue.
"As neighbours living in that region where five million citizens of our country work and earn their livelihood, and given our dependence on energy imports from Iran, we would welcome an outcome of an engagement between Iran and the P-5 (the five permanent members of the UNSC), and I sincerely hope that this engagement will be productive of results," Dr Singh said.