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PM toughens stand on nuke deal

Manmohan asserted that India will not accept any new US conditions, including a permanent ban on nuclear testing.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2006 00:24 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday asserted that India will not accept any new US conditions, including a permanent ban on nuclear testing - a proposal that the US sought to include in the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement being negotiated between the two countries.

"We are not obliged to accept anything that is not mentioned in the July 18 statement (agreed upon between US President George Bush and Manmohan Singh)," Manmohan Singh told reporters in response to a question on India's stand on a permanent ban on nuclear testing.

"We have stated therein that we have unilaterally declared moratorium on further tests and explosions," he told Indian reporters accompanying him on his special aircraft to Hanover on the first leg of a two-nation tour that will also take him to Uzbekistan.

When he was asked whether the test ban issue will be a source of friction between India and the US as they negotiated the fine print of the bilateral nuclear deal, Manmohan Singh replied: "It will not be a sticking point."

Over a week ago, India had announced its decision to reject the draft sent by the US of what is called the "123 agreement" - named after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act - the two countries will sign, saying that "such a provision has no place in the proposed bilateral agreement".

"In preliminary discussions on these elements, India has already conveyed to the US that such a provision has no place in the proposed bilateral agreement and that India is bound only by what is contained in the July 18 joint statement, that is continuing its commitment to a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing," the External Affairs Ministry had said in a statement.

India has refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on the grounds that it is discriminatory and tends to divide the world into nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states.

Manmohan Singh also said that India had begun talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for negotiating India-specific safeguards and the discussions so far were good.

"We have begun talking to the IAEA. Principal science adviser R Chidambaram and (Atomic Energy Commission chairman) Anil Kakodgar have been to Vienna. They have had good discussions with (IAEA) director-general and his colleagues and the process is on," he said.