M A I N   N E W S

No compromise on strategic interests
PM backs nuclear deal with US
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today defended in Parliament the nuclear deal he signed with President George W. Bush during his recent visit to the US and made two important declarations: that India’s strategic arsenal will remain outside the scope of any external interlocutors and that his government will not allow any fissile material shortages.

Dr Manmohan Singh also sought to set the record straight on fears that India might not reap the benefits of the nuclear deal even after throwing open its nuclear facilities for international inspection and announced that the deal would be governed by “reciprocity”. By this he meant that India would not move ahead in a pre-determined manner even if Washington did not reciprocate.

“Reciprocity is key to the implementation of all steps enumerated in the joint statement. We expect a close co-relation between the actions to be taken by the US and by India. Indian actions will be contingent at every stage on actions taken by the other side. Should we not be satisfied that our interests are fully secured, we shall not feel pressed to move ahead in a pre-determined manner,” the Prime Minister said in a suo motu statement in both Houses of Parliament on his US visit.

In an obvious bid to address concerns on the perceived demerits of the Indo-US joint statement released at the end of his US visit, the Prime Minister said the statement referred to Indian commitment to identify and separate civilian and military nuclear facilities in a phased manner and take a decision to place voluntarily civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. “India will never accept discrimination,” he declared.

“There is nothing in this joint statement that amounts to limiting or inhibiting our strategic nuclear weapons programme over which we will retain unrestricted, complete and autonomous control. I repeat there is nothing in this joint statement that amounts to limiting or inhibiting our strategic nuclear weapons programme over which we will retain unrestricted, complete and autonomous control,” Dr Manmohan Singh stressed.

It is in this context that the Prime Minister elaborated on his doctrine of reciprocity. He talked of phased action in terms of identification and separation of civilian nuclear facilities and announced that it would be based “solely on our own duly calibrated national decisions (which) will be taken at appropriate points in time, consistent with our national security interests”.

Furthermore, he also said India would undertake the same responsibilities and obligations as other recognised nuclear powers, including the US. “Concomitantly, we expect the same rights and benefits. Thus we have ensured the principle of non-discrimination. I would like to make it very clear that our commitments would be conditional upon, and reciprocal to, the US fulfilling its side of this understanding.”

The Prime Minister said a central element of his interaction with President Bush was the resumption of bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the US, which has been frozen for decades. He said the US side undertook to adjust its laws and policies domestically and to work with its friends and allies to adjust relevant international regimes.

“Full civilian nuclear energy cooperation would include, but not limit itself, to the expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for Tarapur. The US will also encourage other partners to consider similar requests favourably. We also obtained consideration of our desire to participate as full partners in the International Thermo Nuclear Research Project and the Generation IV International Forum. These programmes in frontier areas of science and technology have considerable potential for our country’s and indeed global energy security in the future. The US agreed to consult other participants with a view towards India’s inclusion.”

The Prime Minister assured Parliament that Indo-US nuclear deal was a clear recognition that India was a responsible nuclear power with an impeccable record on nuclear non-proliferation.

Dr Manmohan Singh also said the US announced the removal of five Indian organisations from its Entity List — three from the space sector and two from atomic energy — and had indicated further review in this matter.

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