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Nuke deterrent preserved: Saran

FOREIGN SECRETARY Shyam Saran has dismissed suggestions that the Indo-US nuclear deal has damaged the credibility of India?s nuclear deterrent, saying India had preserved all its ?basic positions?.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2006 21:39 IST

FOREIGN SECRETARY Shyam Saran has dismissed suggestions that the Indo-US nuclear deal has damaged the credibility of India’s nuclear deterrent, saying India had preserved all its “basic positions”.

In an interview to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN news channel, Saran lashed out at critics of the deal: “Why are we always so worried about screws being tightened on us?”

“As if someone can come and turn the screws on us and we just lie back and be screwed,” Saran said in perhaps the most hard-hitting response to criticism of the deal so far.

Particularly irked by criticism from former PM A.B. Vajpayee, who sought parity and an all-time waiver from Washington, as China has done, Saran said there was a “factual problem” with the contention. China was a recognised nuclear weapons state under the NPT, while India was not.

“No, absolutely not. 100 per cent no,” he snapped when asked whether India’s defence security has been sacrificed in finalising the agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation.

Under the deal, India’s decision on a moratorium on further testing remains but there was no mention of a permanent ban. “What we have committed to is very apparent in the July 18 (2005) Joint Statement where we have said that India will continue its moratorium on nuclear testing,” Saran said.

“There is nothing legally binding. But it is a fact that there is a US law, which is of long-standing nature, which says that the US will be obliged to stop all cooperation with a country which explodes a nuclear explosive device,” he said.
Saran said this was part of the US law and “has nothing to do with the initiative which is being negotiated with India”.

To a query on further testing, he said the definition of explosive device does not include "sub-critical tests". The issue of how to respond should Pakistan or China choose to test nuclear weapons again had been "factored in" to New Delhi's considerations while negotiating the deal, he said.
India has, meanwhile, turned down US suggestions to define its credible minimum nuclear deterrent, saying it has "no
responsibility” to do so.

A day after US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher made the suggestion, Saran told NDTV: "What our credible minimum deterrent will be is for India to decide. Certainly there is no responsibility on the part of

India to declare what its minimum deterrent is." He expressed optimism that given the efforts of the Bush administration, the deal would go through.

But he made it clear that "substantial changes" or "revisions" to the deal were unacceptable to India.