NEW DELHI, Sept 28: Iran has put India on notice over a controversial vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) governing board meeting on Saturday, saying that its offer to supply gas to New Delhi hinged on future behaviour, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The Hindu newspaper reported that Iran has informed India that the five-million-tonne a year liquefied natural gas (LNG) export deal, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2009 for a 25-year period, was off.

The Economic Times pointed to a similar future. “Forget the Iran-India pipeline, India may now have to bargain hard to get its LNG deal in place,” it said.

The newspaper said India’s plans to import five million tonnes LNG from Iran, a $20bn deal contracted in June ‘05, “appears to be in trouble”.

The Hindu quoted a communication to the Indian Prime Minister’s Office and foreign ministry on Saturday by India’s Permanent Representative in Vienna Sheelkant Sharma, who wrote that his Iranian counterpart had told him the LNG deal, signed between the two sides in June, was off.

“The Iranian Ambassador in Vienna came up to Dr Sharma after India’s vote and conveyed a message from Ali Larijani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, that Tehran was no longer willing to go ahead with the deal,” The Hindu said.

However, agency reports from Tehran on Wednesday said the Iranian government had discarded reports that it planned to pull out of the gas deal with India.

Meanwhile, the United States has termed “very significant” India’s vote in favour of an IAEA resolution on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, according to the Press Trust of India.

“It’s very significant to the US that India voted with the majority. That is a blow to Iran’s attempt to turn this debate into a developed world versus a developing world debate,” PTI quoted US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns as saying.

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