- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nuclear option

The U.S. ambassador to India yesterday warned the government in New Delhi that it will lose congressional support for a landmark U.S.-Indian nuclear energy deal if it votes against efforts to haul Iran before the U.N. Security Council.

Ambassador David C. Mulford said he urged India to support U.S. and European officials at next week’s meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), during which they will vote to refer Iran to the Security Council to face potential economic and political sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.

He said India’s failure to support that position would be “devastating” in Washington, where Congress must approve a deal reached in July to provide India with civilian nuclear technology and nuclear fuel. Under the deal, India would agree to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs and open its civilian programs to international inspections.

The deal is considered a breakthrough in U.S.-Indian relations, after Washington imposed sanctions on New Delhi in 1998 when it conducted nuclear weapons tests. Those sanctions have been lifted.

“We have made it known to them that we would very much like India’s support because India has arrived on the world stage and is a very, very important player in the world,” Mr. Mulford told the Press Trust of India.

If India supports Iran at the IAEA meeting, “the effect on members of the U.S. Congress with regard to the civil nuclear initiative will be devastating,” he said.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said it considered Mr. Mulford’s remarks as interference in India’s domestic affairs.

“The position that India will take on this issue at the IAEA will be based on India’s independent judgment, and we categorically reject any attempt to link this to the proposed India-U.S. agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation,” said spokesman Navtej Sarna.

The Indian government faced outrage from its left-wing political allies in September when it supported the United States in a preliminary vote on Iran at the IAEA.

Disaster relief

Andrew S. Natsios no longer has to wake up every morning and worry about the crisis of the day, as he did for five years as director of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Now he just teaches about famine, war and humanitarian assistance at Georgetown University.

His days are taken up answering e-mails and returning phone calls from former associates who want him to speak at various functions.

“My blood pressure has gone down 18 points,” Mr. Natsios said at a dinner in his honor at the home of Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias this week.

The ambassador said Mr. Natsios and USAID inspired Greece to create its own international aid agency.

“USAID was a model for us to follow,” Mr. Mallias said.

Mr. Natsios regaled the guests with stories about his Greek heritage and how he kept finding relatives in unlikely places. He once met a silversmith in Buenos Aries who turned out to be a fifth cousin twice removed.

Mr. Mallias presented Mr. Natsios with a framed antique map of the Greek island of Evia, the ancestral home of one branch of Mr. Natsios’ family.

“I can accept these gifts now. I don’t have to ask the [State Department’s] ethics office for a ruling,” Mr. Natsios said with a laugh.

Other guests included Greek-American Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat; John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence; and White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.

Mr. Card and Mr. Natsios have known each other since they served in the Massachusetts legislature in the 1970s.

“If anyone had told us then that we would wind up where we are today, I would have thought they were crazy,” Mr. Natsios said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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