India has issued a statement on Friday, clearly aimed at assuring the dissenting voices at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that it remained committed to a voluntary and unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement, “We approach our dialogue with NSG and all its members in a spirit of cooperation that allows for an ongoing frank exchange of views on subjects of mutual interest and concern.”
He promised “India will not be a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies, including enrichment and reprocessing transfers. We stand for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime.”
It was made clear in the statement that India had recently submitted a Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament to the UN General Assembly, containing initiatives on nuclear disarmament.
“We are committed to work with others towards the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament that is universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable,” Mukherjee said.
He said, “We do not subscribe to any arms race. We have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility. We affirm our policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons.”
“We have in place an effective and comprehensive system of national export controls, which has been constantly updated to meet the highest international standards,” Mukherjee said, adding that this was reflected in the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems Act in 2005.
The statement concluded, “We look forward to working with the IAEA in implementing the India-specific Safeguards Agreement concluded with the IAEA.”
Meanwhile, as the government waited anxiously for the outcome of the NSG meeting in Vienna, the Opposition kept the pot boiling over the US disclosures that it would stop nuclear supplies to India if it conducted a test again.
The BJP has asked the government to come clear on “what other conditions they have agreed to with the US that they are hiding”. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, “Whatever little credibility this government had, has been lost after the revelations.”
The Samajwadi Party on Friday focussed on damage control measures. Downplaying Mulayam Singh Yadav’s response on Thursday that he was in a dilemma over the deal, Amar Singh supported the Prime Minister’s statement on the issue, quoting former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s opinion that India did not need any fresh tests.
But Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, “It is an irony that in case the deal does not get through, the maximum applause will be in Islamabad, Beijing and Nagpur from where the BJP is remote-controlled.”
AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa, a strong critic of the deal, demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, alleging, “What is hidden in the agreement is out now.”