M A I N   N E W S

No cap on N-capability: Manmohan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 11
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today told Parliament that India had not accepted a cap on its strategic nuclear capability while clinching the civilian nuclear deal with the USA.

He reiterated that India’s separation plan under the Indo-US nuclear deal would not adversely affect India’s strategic programme to maintain a minimum credible deterrent. He assured both Houses of Parliament that “unique India-specific” IAEA safeguards would virtually recognise India as a nuclear-weapon state.

While replying to a day-long debate in the two Houses on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “India will not accept the safeguards meant for non-nuclear weapon states.”

He declared that the country would not forego the three-stage programme, which would enable the government to utilise vast thorium reserves in future.

He described the Indo-US nuclear deal as “a step forward which will take the country on a higher growth and development trajectory.”

On the issue of the closure of the Cirus reactor, located at BARC complex, the Prime Minister said only the fuel core of other nuclear reactor Apsara would be shifted and not the reactor itself.

He stated that India’s status as a nuclear-weapon state had been implicitly recognised by the international community. “Our safeguards cannot be a carbon copy of model one or model two. It has to be a unique safeguards agreement with the IAEA.”

The government came under a lot of flak in both Houses from its allies and the Opposition on the nuclear deal. The Left parties demanded setting up of a special Parliamentary committee to study the Indo-US civilian nuclear energy agreement as the government came under fire in the Rajya Sabha for “having compromised” the country’s food and energy security.

Mr Nilotpal Basu (CPI-M), delivering his last address in the Rajya Sabha as his term is about to expire, said, “If the US is taking its own time in finalising the deal, we can’t take these things lightly. It is far more serious. There has to be a structured engagement across the political and public opinion and that of technical experts.”

The CPM suggestion was backed by the Samajwadi Party whose member Shahid Sidiqqui said the proposed committee could work on the pattern of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

The move assumes significance with both the parties backing the UPA government from outside.

In the Lok Sabha, Mr C.K. Chandrappan (CPI-M) alleged that the basic interest of that country was to prop up India to counter the growing power of China. He said the treaty entered into by India was of an “unequal nature” and expressed doubts over whether the US was sincere about implementing it, having a poor record in this connection.

Mr Chandrappan referred to the dubious record of the USA’s involvement in nearly 100 cases of overthrowing of governments which did not toe its line, particularly in Latin American countries. He cited a few examples.

Mr Rupchand Pal, CPI-M, said the USA had already changed “goalpost” in the nuclear deal and it could do so in future by “bringing new conditions.”

He apprehended that India was being sucked into US “game plan” in Asia to counter China.

Initiating a discussion on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said the March-2 Indo-US joint statement was far from protecting the “enlightened national interest.”

“It seems that sovereignty, nuclear parity and reciprocity have been compromised,” Dr Joshi said. Contending that India has not benefited from the agreement, Joshi said “the USA offered arms worth $5 billion if India signed the civil-nuclear agreement.”

He said it was also not based on reciprocity of “give and take. I think the USA wants India to take initiatives which could be followed by it later.”

Dr Joshi said far from treating India as a partner state, US President George W. Bush openly flaunted the arrangement with our country as that of a “client state.”

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