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Indo-US N-deal reciprocal: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 15
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today that the Indo-US nuclear deal was proceeding on the basis of “strict reciprocity” and India was at liberty not to meet its commitments if the US Administration did not fulfil its obligations.

Responding to supplementaries during question hour in the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister said the decision to put certain facilities and reactors under international inspection was India’s and there was no question of doing it under pressure.

On the members’ apprehension that the US Administration has been asking for more concessions since the nuclear deal was reached, the Prime Minister said the binding constraint for the two countries was the July 18 agreement.

Observing that the approval by the US Congress for the July 18 agreement was the concern of the US Administration, the Prime Minister said he expected the US Administration to use its full weight to get the necessary approval of the Congress.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the nuclear working group headed by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and US Under Secretary Nicholas Burns had held a “good meeting” and the next one was likely to take place on December 21-22.

“I think we are trying to work out ways and means by which a satisfactory solution is found and through which both India and the USA can honour their commitments,” he said.

Asked if the government had a contingency plan if the US Congress did not ratify the agreement, he said it was not proper for him to talk about contingency plan. “If the USA does not carry out its obligations, I think we are also free not to carry out our obligations,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the two countries were following a step-by-step approach. “I have said before in Parliament that the binding constraint is what is stated in the July 18 statement, which was jointly issued by President Bush and me, and there is, I think, strict reciprocity,” he said.

On what would be the main agenda from the Indian side for the upcoming meeting, the Prime Minister said both countries have made certain commitments.

Earlier, Minister of State for External Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh said in a written statement that under the July 18 understanding on civil nuclear energy cooperation, the US President would seek agreement from the Congress to adjust US laws and policies as also work with friends and allies to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India.

This included expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for safeguarding nuclear reactors at Tarapur. He said India had conveyed that it would reciprocally agree and be ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology.

These included separation of civilian and military nuclear facilities and programmes in a phased manner and filing a declaration regarding its civilian facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Responding to a query, the minister said the Nuclear Working Group of the two countries is likely to meet later this month. “The US President is coming. The momentum is on, and hopefully by the time the President comes here, we will have something better to inform,” he said.

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