India will not be pressurized into supporting the United States on issues like Iran in return for a nuclear pact with Washington, New Delhi’s envoy said in an interview with a local magazine.
The pact, which has yet to be approved by the U.S. Congress, would allow India access to U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time in 30 years.
U.S. officials say there is strong bipartisan support in Congress for the deal but India’s ties with its old friend Iran remain a source of concern to Congress in the run up to the vote.
But Ronen Sen, India’s ambassador to the United States, told Outlook magazine that India would not tow Washington’s line on Iran.
“Linking this agreement with any other issue — today it be Iran, tomorrow it can be some other issue — will be counterproductive,” a press release from the magazine quoted Sen as saying in the interview to be published on Saturday.
“It would be totally unrealistic to expect a large and vibrant democracy like India to give up its independence of judgment and action.”
The deal aims to help India meet its soaring energy needs even though it has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has tested nuclear weapons.
The framework of the deal was first agreed in principle two years ago and approved by Congress last December. Congress has to now approve a detailed bilateral pact that governs nuclear commerce between the two nations.
Members of Congress and U.S. officials have publicly urged India several times in the past to distance itself from Tehran and not push projects such as an ambitious Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline as Washington accuses Iran of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program.