Former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has clarified Bhartiya Janata Party's stand on the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, saying the party's objections to the deal are confined merely to its details which he did not spell out.
Speaking at a meeting at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington on Wednesday, Singh frankly acknowledged that the agreement was a "natural evolution" of the comprehensive dialogue on the Indo-US relations that he, as a representative of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had with then US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Talbott shared the dais with him.
Singh said the difficulty was not with the direction of the India-US cooperation in the nuclear field but it was with the details of the agreement, interpreted differently by different people.
"For the US, this agreement is about non-proliferation while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was about energy."
During the debate on the agreement in Parliament, MR Vajpayee had drawn attention to the "pitfalls" in the document, Singh said.
Talbott said he was sure that the agreement would secure the approval of the US Senate but it was not going to end the debate between the two countries on the nuclear issue.
"In fact, I fear that US-India relationship may continue to be conducted on a narrower band then the commonality of interests between us requires," the former US Deputy Secretary said referring to the tone of the debate on the nuclear issue that is currently going on in both India and the US.
Talbott said the Bush administration, by signing the nuclear deal, had granted exception to India in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), thus moving away from a ruled-based system for controlling the proliferation of dangerous technologies, particularly nuclear technology.
He said this US approach would create problems in dealing with other countries, which would claim a status similar to what had been agreed to in case of India.