M A I N   N E W S

N-deal: PM silences critics
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 18
When India’s top scientists meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on August 26 to discuss Indo-US nuclear deal, they are unlikely to have any clarifications left to seek after Dr Singh’s elaborate and scholarly reply in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

Two of his categoric announcements should be enough to pour cold water on those sections of “concerned” scientists who did not believe the earlier assurances of the Prime Minister and insisted on a “sense of Parliament” resolution.

“The Indo-US nuclear agreement will not be allowed to be used as a backdoor method of introducing NPT-type restrictions on India,” Dr Singh had said. “Our offer to put nuclear facilities under safeguards in perpetuity is conditional upon these facilities securing fuel from international sources for their life time.”

Few would know that Dr Singh knows much more on nuclear energy issues than any living or dead politician or a diplomat as he has been associated with the Atomic Energy Commission for the past 33 years. He first got associated with the commission in 1973 as Union Finance Secretary. Since then he has been in regular touch with the commission as well as with nuclear matters.

As many as eight retired nuclear scientists had raised some important concerns in their letter to the Prime Minister on August 14. Dr Singh gave point-by-point rebuttal of these concerns.

The scientists had argued that India should continue to be able to hold on to her nuclear option as a strategic requirement in the real world that we live in and should not accede to any restraint in perpetuity on its freedom of action. The Prime Minister responded by saying that New Delhi was firm in its determination that nuclear deal with the US in no way could affect the Indian strategic programme. “Nuclear weapons are an integral part of our national security and will remain so, pending the global elimination of all nuclear weapons and universal non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament,” Dr Singh stated.

The second concern raised by the scientists was that safeguards should be strictly restricted to those facilities and materials imported from external sources. On this Dr Singh responded that: “Sensitive nuclear technology facilities have not been covered in the Separation Plan. Therefore, there is no question of putting them under safeguards or under external controls.”

Another concern of the scientists was that the Indo-US deal, in the form approved by the US House of Representatives, infringed on India’s independence for carrying out indigenous research and development in nuclear science and technology.




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