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Atomic energy panel to scrutinise nuclear deal

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) will scrutinise Indo-US civilian nuclear legislation slated for approval by the Senate and Congress, reports BR Srikanth

india Updated: Sep 26, 2006 04:47 IST

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) will scrutinise the Indo-US civilian nuclear legislation slated for approval by the Senate and the Congress. This is to ensure the country’s interests are safeguarded and address the concerns raised by top nuclear scientists and parties.

This will be the first time the AEC takes the initiative to vet the document cleared by the Senate and the Congress. “There's nothing to worry about. We will not allow anyone to take India for a ride. It's not as if they can force whatever they want on us. We (AEC) will go word by word over what the Senate and Congress say. I have told the Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh) and he has agreed," Prof C.N.R. Rao, chairman of the Prime Minister's Science Advisory Council and member of the AEC, said.

The deal, according to Prof Rao, will help India end its status as a "nuclear apartheid nation" and facilitate import of uranium from Australia and Brazil for long-term energy security. "Right now, we do not have uranium (in sufficient quantity to support the nuclear power programme). Unless this deal with the United States comes through, none will sell uranium to us, not even Russia, Australia or Brazil."

Prof Rao's assertion came in the light of apprehension among nuclear scientists that the "lawmakers of the US Congress" could modify both in letter and spirit, the implementation of the Indo-US agreement.

As regards the indigenous nuclear energy programme, Prof Rao said the Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) will be "our trump card and everybody will follow our example (FBRs use plutonium and depleted uranium from Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRS) as fuel for nuclear energy)”.