M A I N   N E W S

PM promises strict N-safeguards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today sought to assure the international community about its non-proliferation concerns and said that India was prepared for “broadest” engagement with the international non-proliferation regime provided its indigenous nuclear and strategic programme was not subject to “externally imposed constraints”.

Addressing the country’s defence scientists on the occasion of Technology Day the Prime Minister said, “India is willing to shoulder its share of international obligations as a partner against proliferation provided our legitimate interests are safeguarded”.

Assuring the international community that strict regulations were in force to prevent internal leakages and external transfers of sensitive technologies, he said that the suppliers of high technology should have confidence that these would remain secure with India. “We see no reason for non-proliferation concerns to be a barrier to high technology trade and commerce with India”.

The US and Russia had been seeking assurances from India on tight controls on export of sensitive technologies to clear hurdles in the way for transfer of advanced nuclear technology for peaceful uses. Dr Singh’s statement assumed importance in this regard and specially as he said that India was conscious of its responsibilities from the possession of advanced technologies, both civilian and strategic.

Pointing out that India was committed to ensure that these technologies were not used for prohibited activities, he said that this commitment was reflected in the passage of the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery System Prohibition of Unlawful Activities legislation by Parliament last week.

India would not be a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies. “We will adopt the most stringent measures to safeguard and secure the technologies that we possess,” he said.

However, asserting that India should fully explore what was available through external sources, technology transfers and co-production, both for use in markets in this country and for third-country exports the Prime Minister cautioned the country’s defence scientists that they could not afford to lag behind in critical technologies for which it would have to rely on its own resources as multilateral technology denial regimes targeting India remained by and large in place.

Dr Singh said that co-production in India might provide answer to the persistent problems of reliability of spares and product support for defence services.

Citing the example of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile co-produced with Russia the Prime Minister said that such partnerships would enable the country to move beyond buyer-seller relationship, to joint production and development of technologies.

Declaring that India did not want to enter into any arms race in the region, the Prime Minister said there was a need to develop comprehensive military capabilities to give confidence so that the autonomy of national decision making would not be affected in period of crises.

At the function Prime Minister gave away 16 awards for Scientists of the Year for 2003-04, one Life-time Achievement Award to Ram Narain Agarwal, father of the Agni series of surface-to-surface missiles, two DRDO awards for performance excellence, including to Dr A Sivathanu Pillai and his team of 12 scientists for developing Brahmos cruise missile series.

The Prime Minister said in recent years there had been delays in equipment reaching the services, while funds allocated for procurement were under-utilised. “We can ill afford continued delays in project implementation, both in terms of impact time and cost overruns,” he said while pointing out that such delays also seriously undermine the confidence of defence services.

He said long-term defence procurement planning must therefore identify the optimal mix between requirements of indigenous production and external procurement.

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