India opposed Iran’s nuclear programme at UN four times in the past. However, Tehran understood the fact that New Delhi had done so due to immense international pressure. The Iranian officials’ better understanding of Indian foreign policy has helped the two nations maintain “friendly” ties. Now, Iran plans to invite India to take part in a nuclear technology forum in Tehran next year.

The Hassan Rouhani administration’s significant move will certainly help the South Asian country learn from Iran’s vast experience on nuclear safety to prevent accidents. Talking to the media on the sidelines of 11th International Public Forum-Dialogue “Nuclear Energy, Environment, Safety” in Moscow, head of Iran’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority Naser Rastkhah recently said that they would soon send a invitation letter to the Indian government.

The senior Iranian official said that Iran was ready to work with India in an attempt to boost nuclear safety in Asia. With bilateral relations on upswing since 2015 following the nuclear deal between Iran and five major world powers, it’s the right time for the two “friendly” nations to share their knowledge management skills, added Rastkhah. He further said that Russia and China, too, would attend the annual VVER (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) Technology Forum in 2017.

Meanwhile, Rastkhah revealed that Iran would allow India to use VVER reactor designs that were developed by erstwhile Soviet Union, stressing that Tehran was well aware of the fact that New Delhi planned to make more nuclear reactors in the coming years. “Iran and India have commonalities in nuclear sector. Both countries use VVER technologies. Both have developed research activities and they could follow that. We have similar interests in the nuclear programme from the safety point of view,” he told the Russian media. Rastkhah stated: “Things could be done very easily. We hope things could be extended in a more tangible manner in the future.”

Commenting on nuclear safety measures taken by India, Rastkhah said that it was a serious issue and Iran was concerned about the dearth of knowledge among countries that were foraying into the nuclear energy sector in Asia. “From the regulatory point of view, we belong to the same region and any accident anywhere is an accident everywhere. India has a very good experience long before Iran in this regard and they could probably co-operate with our nuclear regulatory authority,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rastkhah advised India to collect information about nuclear safety as much as possible before setting up new nuclear plants, saying: “Most of the newcomers have little knowledge of safety. If people are aware, safety is there. Usually we are influenced by lack of information. If we could extend our collaboration with the Indian regulatory body, we are on the safe side.”

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]