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India firm on N-test prerogative

INDIA HAS denied claims it has agreed to a permanent ban on its ability to carry out nuclear tests as part of the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement. Officials said the ban was part of a draft put forward by US negotiators a few weeks ago.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 12:26 IST

INDIA HAS denied claims it has agreed to a permanent ban on its ability to carry out nuclear tests as part of the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

Officials said the ban was part of a draft put forward by US negotiators a few weeks ago. India rejected the testing ban, saying it was bound only by its existing voluntary moratorium.

India denies that it has agreed to a permanent ban on its ability to carry out nuclear tests as part of the Indo-US nuclear deal

Ban was part of a draft agreement forwarded by US negotiators a few weeks ago

On Monday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Navtej Sarna said: "The US had shared with India some weeks ago a preliminary draft agreement on Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation under Article 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act. In preliminary discussions on these elements, India conveyed to the US that such a provision has no place in the proposed bilateral agreement."

"India is bound only by what is contained in the July 18 Joint Statement, that is, continuing its commitment to a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing," Sarna said.

US inserted a clause that would end bilateral civil nuclear collaboration if India detonated a nuclear explosive device in its draft because of existing clauses in the US Atomic Energy and Arms Export Acts.

India made it clear it would not accept such a linkage in the 123 Agreement. India accepts it cannot do anything about US laws banning nuclear cooperation with any country that carries out a nuclear test, but will not accept them as part of a bilateral agreement. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran noted last week on TV that they were not "India-specific".