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Nuke deal talks on agenda, says minister

mumbai Updated: Oct 30, 2010 15:10 IST
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A week before US President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to India, minister of state for science and technology Prithviraj Chavan said, on Friday, that talks surrounding nuclear agreements were very much on the agenda.

“In all bilateral meetings, there is a nuclear component, whether upfront or otherwise. That’s because the expansion of the nuclear programme is not being taken lightly,” said Chavan at the Founder’s Day celebration of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay.

However, the minister was quick to add that the country won’t compromise on importing technology for its nuclear reactors. Chavan’s statement assumed significance in the context of the Nuclear Damage Liability Bill with the US suppliers expressing apprehension over the liability cap.

Senior officials from the Atomic Energy Department said four sessions had been held between US industrialists and lawyers and Indian officials to address concerns arising from the liability Bill. “Discussions are on. The spirit of the Bill is very clear.”

“We won’t accept any conditions and agreements will be on our terms. The pricing must be competitive and environmental concerns will have to be met. Only then will we import technology and uranium to expand our nuclear technology,” Chavan added.

Having discussed the nuclear agreement in Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s future visit to South Korea will also delve into the issue.

Addressing an auditorium comprising scientists, Chavan said while the bilateral nuclear programme was important, India would not dilute the indigenous three-stage programme as envisaged by Homi Bhabha.

Be it the international civilian nuclear deal or India’s own programme, Chavan said it was all being achieved without signing unequal treaties.

“We can’t accept the two-tier system around the P-5 countries (five countries that detonated nuclear explosions prior to 1967),” Chavan said.