New Delhi: Iran has agreed to consider a visit by an Indian team probing a bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife in New Delhi, even as it accused Israel of legitimizing assassinations and introducing cyber viruses into its strategic industries.
Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna raised the issue of the probe with visiting Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi over lunch and Iran agreed to consider the request, said a person familiar with the development, declining to be identified.
Salehi is on a two-day visit to India to deliver an invite from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for the Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM, summit in Tehran in August.
Meeting objectives: Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi (left) with his Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna, in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Credit Line.
In March, police detained a Delhi-based journalist in connection with the 13 February attack on a car transporting an Israeli diplomat’s wife. The blast injured four people, one seriously.
Asked at a joint press conference if Iran will cooperate with India in the probe, Salehi said Iran has been accused of many things by Israel in the past.
“It was just a few months ago that there was another blame that Iran was intending to assassinate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia,” Salehi said, referring to an apparent plot that emerged in October to kill the Saudi Arabia ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir. “I would like to ask the press to go and see what happened to this. We totally refute any action of this sort,” he said, in turn accusing Israel of employing such tactics.
“They (Israel) expressed just a few days ago that they were introducing computer viruses into our industry,” Salehi said. Last month, the powerful Flame malware—capable of listening in on computer users—was discovered after it attacked Iranian oil ministry websites. Media reports this week quoted Israeli vice-prime minister Moshe Ya’alon as hinting that Israel had a hand in the cyber attack.
Salehi said the international community did not react to such attacks or “when they (Israel) assassinate our best scientists... they have given assassination a kind of legality,” he said. Iran has accused Israel of being behind the killings of at least five of its nuclear scientists and researchers since 2010.
Israel and the West, including the US, suspect Iran is building a nuclear bomb under the cover of a civilian programme. India, which supports Iran’s rights to a peaceful nuclear energy plan, has been urging the West Asian country to engage in talks with the international community to resolve differences.
The US and the European Union have announced curbs on entities dealing with Iran’s oil industry, forcing countries such as India to cut imports.
On Thursday, Krishna said US and EU sanctions in a globalized world “tend to impact on our markets and commercial entities take these into account. Such measures should not impact on legitimate trade interests”, he said. “With respect to our energy, we are dependent on imports to meet the bulk of our requirements. Given our growing demands, it is natural for us to diversify our sources of import to meet the objectives of energy security. In this context, Iran is a key country for our energy needs.”
Salehi, on his part, stressed on Iran’s reliability as an oil supplier to energy-deficient India.
On the relevance of NAM, Salehi said the grouping could reinvent itself as a platform and a voice for emerging countries. Salehi will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and national security adviser Shivshankar Menon and is expected to meet finance minister Pranab Mukherjee before returning home on Friday.