M A I N   N E W S

Scientists voice fears over nuclear deal
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 26
Seven of the eight retired nuclear scientists, who had voiced their concerns over certain aspects of the Indo-US nuclear deal on August 14, today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and reiterated their fears.

The scientists said they were concerned about the changes being sought by members of the US Congress to the July 18, 2005 Joint Statement signed by Dr Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush.

The Prime Minister reiterated the assurances he had given to Parliament, saying that India would go ahead with the nuclear deal only and only if it were to be within the parameters of the Joint Statement. He also reiterated his assurance given in the Lok Sabha earlier this week that “the Indo-US nuclear agreement will not be allowed to be used as a backdoor method of introducing NPT-type restrictions on India.”

The scientists who met the Prime Minister at his Race Course Road residence this evening for 90 minutes were the former Chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr H. N. Sethna, Dr M R. Srinivasan, and Dr P. K Iyengar, and former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Dr A Gopalakrishnan.

The others at the meeting were Dr A.N. Prasad, former Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Dr Y. S. R. Prasad, former Chairman and Managing Director, Nuclear Power Corporation, and Dr Placid Rodriguez, former Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam.

Dr S. L. Kati, former Managing Director, Nuclear Power Corporation, who was among the group of eight scientists who had written the Memorandum to the PM could not attend the meeting with the Prime Minister.

The 90-minute meeting covered a wide range of issues. The Prime Minister asked the Department of Atomic Energy and the National Security Adviser to remain in touch with the scientists and take their advice while negotiating the safeguards agreement and the India-specific additional protocol with the IAEA.

The scientists welcomed his statements in Parliament earlier this week on the agreement India is negotiating with the USA and the International Atomic Energy Agency on cooperation in civil nuclear energy.

One of the scientists, Dr M R Srinivasan, summed up the view of the group stating: “Your statement was beautiful. We loved it.”

The Prime Minister invited the nuclear scientists to “help outline a path to take advantage of this new opening (provided by the nuclear agreement) to end the nuclear apartheid against India,” Prime Minister’s Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru said.

Dr Manmohan Singh asked the scientists to show “how best to use the opportunities on the horizon, while minimising the risks and taking care of our national interests.”

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister held another meeting with all members of the Atomic Energy Commission where the Indo-US nuclear deal and the issue of fuel shortage at atomic reactors and security at nuclear installations came up for discussion. This meeting too lasted 90 minutes. It was attended by all members, including AEC Chairman Anil Kakodkar, National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan, Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi, Chairman of the PM’s Science Advisory Council C N R Rao, BARC Director Srikumar Bannerjee and former AEC Chairman M R Srinivasan.





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