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'The agreement is good for India, and for the world’

india Updated: Aug 14, 2007 02:22 IST
Shekhar Iyer and Anil Anand
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Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh on Monday put up a stout defence of the nuclear deal with the United States in his first statement in Parliament after the 123 Agreement.

Asserting that the agreement did not in any way affect the country's right to conduct a nuclear test in the future, he rejected the contention of the Left and opposition parties that it curtailed the country's strategic autonomy and impinged on its independent foreign policy.

"We have achieved an agreement that is good for India, and good for the world. I am neither given to exaggeration nor am I known to be self-congratulatory. I will let history judge," Singh declared amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches and walkout by Left parties and protests by the opposition.

Significantly, Left members did not join the slogan shouting, but staged walk-outs in Both Houses. In the Rajya Sabha, Singh made the same statement but did not complete it, pointing out that protesting members were not interested.

In the Lok Sabha, the Left sat through the Prime Minister's speech and walked out just before he was to conclude.

The House was adjourned for the day after Singh's statement. The newly formed UNPA MPs and the NDA entered the well of the House and kept chanting slogans against the PM. An angry Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said it was shame that the PM was not being heard.

"'Let me reiterate that a decision to undertake a future nuclear test would be our sovereign decision, one that rests solely with the government," Singh told Parliament in a detailed eight-page statement made in both Houses.

Alluding to concerns raised by the Left, NDA and UNPA over various aspects of the 123 Agreement, Singh said India could take "corrective measures" if the US terminates the agreement and the cessation of cooperation would take place after "elaborate multi-layered" consultations.

"There is no question that we will ever compromise, in any manner, our independent foreign policy. We shall retain our strategic autonomy," Singh said.

Allaying apprehensions that the nuclear deal will be scrutinised every year by the US President and Congress, he said, "There is no provision that states that US cooperation with India will be subject to an annual certification process".

Earlier, as soon as Lok Sabha assembled, the slogan shouting Samajwadi Party members rushed to the well of the house. They demanded scrapping of the Indo-US agreement which they claimed was against the country’s interests. They were joined by the BJP-led NDA combine and Telegu Desam Party.