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India firm on no concessions in N-deal
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have received a revised draft of the Indo-US agreement of July 18, 2005, and the subsequent one of March 2 this year, the Congress-led UPA government is unlikely to make any concessions.

Sources said the revised draft was thrown up when Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran met the US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns in London recently, but this remained outside the realm of discussions.

They said the think tank in the US was pushing for including certain other aspects in the agreement to get the endorsement of the US Congress.

However, the government’s stand was clear and the Bush administration was aware of India’s track record in the nuclear sphere coupled with the self-imposed moratorium on carrying out nuclear tests, they said.

The American Congress is holding hearings on the proposed legislation to enable the US enter into civil-nuclear energy cooperation with India and allow the Bush administration to approach the nuclear suppliers group to adjust its policies to make an exception in the case of India.

It is unclear if the US Congress will accord its approval before the deadline in the first week of July after which there will be a recess. Thereafter, the US Congress is expected to be busy with new elections.

Even if the US Congress presses for some additional conditionalities beyond the agreements of July, 2005, and March this year, the Manmohan Singh government has made its position clear that no new conditionalities will be acceptable.

The country’s nuclear programme initially had not separated the civilian and strategic activities. This is no longer the case. It is widely believed in the nuclear establishment that India should end its nuclear isolation and use civil-nuclear cooperation with other advanced countries to rapidly increase nuclear power capacity without compromising on the nuclear deterrence or the freedom to pursue the three-stage programme, including thorium utilisation.

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in her testimony to the Congress in April had strongly supported the Indo-US agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and urged the support of the Senate. Ms Rice had argued that the agreement was good for America and India.

During his visit to this country, President Bush had stated, “India in the 21st century is a natural partner of the USA because we are partners in the case of human liberty.”

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