N-deal: India's interest comes first, says Pranab | india | Hindustan Times
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N-deal: India's interest comes first, says Pranab

india Updated: Dec 13, 2006 03:11 IST

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee reassured Parliament that there would be no external interference or encroachment on India's strategic programme while emphasising the significance of the US legislation for India's overall energy security.

Making a suo motu statement in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, Mukherjee gave the government's perspective on what is turning into a contentious domestic issue — the passage of waivers by the US Congress that will enable the American government to begin nuclear commerce with India.

"This nuclear understanding with the USA is significant from the larger perspective of our energy security," Mukherjee said. "Energy has become a critical constraint to expand our economic growth and development" and "the absence of international cooperation seriously constrains us from reaching these nuclear energy targets…"

"The conduct of foreign policy determined solely by our national interest is our sovereign right," Mukherjee said, assuaging concerns particularly from Left party allies "of certain extraneous and prescriptive provisions in the legislation," particularly passages in the legislation that pertain to India's dealings with Iran.

While tackling BJP's concerns about the legislation encroaching on India's strategic programme, Mukherjee said, "We have been clear that our strategic programme remains outside the purview of these discussions. We will not allow external scrutiny or interference with the strategic programme."

"The test of this process is for India to secure full civil nuclear cooperation with the international community," Mukherjee said, "while protecting our strategic programme and maintaining the integrity of our three-stage nuclear programme."

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