PM tells US, India cannot agree to a bilateral NPT | india | Hindustan Times
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PM tells US, India cannot agree to a bilateral NPT

india Updated: Aug 22, 2007 17:24 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it clear to President George W Bush during negotiations on the Indo-US nuclear deal that India could not agree to a "bilateral" NPT or Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty(CTBT).

He also said that it was not in India's interest for Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, although it had the right to have nuclear energy as an NPT member.

"I told President Bush, I can't be a cheer leader or be part of a warmongering group. The nuclear dispute with Iran should be resolved through peaceful processes," he told India Today.

The Prime Minister's comments came in an interview conducted over two months back while he was returning from the G-8 Summit of Industrialsied countries in Germany. Singh had met Bush and other world leaders during his trip in June.

The magazine said its understanding was that excerpts of the interview could be published once the 123 agreement was reached.

Singh recalled that the US President had told him in July, 2005, "don't expect me to help you to build bombs. I told him I didn't expect the US to do that because with our previous achievements, we didn't need anyone's help."

The Prime Minister said "I made it clear during the negotiations that we can't agree to a bilateral NPT or CTBT. We have a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and we will exercise restraint".

Singh, who has been under attack from the BJP-led Opposition and the Left allies over the nuclear cooperation agreement, contended that the deal was a "logical fallout" of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership that the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had begun with the US.

"It was an outcome of that process....While we had successfully made nuclear weapons, on the power front, there were too many shifting targets. We had set a target of 10,000 MW of nuclear power almsot 35 years agao and now we have only around 3,700 MW. The deal would help us meet our targets for nuclear power," he said.

Describing Bush as a "very easy person" to deal with, Singh said "he is very nice to me and of all the US Presidents, he is the friendliest towards India".

Noting that the US had become the "sole superpower" almost 15 years back, he said "but all these years, no Indian government had the courage to change our policy towards the US.

It was felt during foreign policy review that Indo-US relations were the key in a globalised world and "we needed to give them the highest importance. We have stayed the course".