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'India-US ties go beyond nuclear deal'

Pranab Mukerjee says mere outcome of the proposed deal alone will not hamper ties between the nations.

world Updated: Oct 04, 2007 18:21 IST
Arun Kumar

The India-US civilian nuclear deal is not the only thing going in the relationship between the two countries and its collapse for any reason would not imply a return to a "negative situation", according to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

India has had good relations with the US from day one though sometimes as in every relationship there may be things that may not work, Mukherjee said on American TV show "Charlie Rose Show on PBS" on Wednesday.

Noting that India has the single largest industrial and technical collaboration with the US, Mukherjee said: "This (nuclear deal) is not the only matter on which our entire relationship depends.

"Of course, it is an important milestone, but I do not feel that if this will collapse or if this will fails we will go back to the negative situation. It is not like that."

"I am afraid that I do not pin hope only on this particular arrangement, because this arrangement we started talking of during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US," he said.

Mukherjee rejected US critics' suggestions that the nuclear deal completely negates existing American laws and helps India reprocess fuel from a reactor to produce plutonium, which could be used in bombs, and it dilutes strict conditions that US Congress had placed on nuclear commerce.

"So far as the US laws are concerned, we are fully aware of US laws. But here, I would like to make one point quite clear: when we did not agree to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is not that we disagreed with the ultimate objective of non-proliferation," he said.

As pointed out by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in his vision of nuclear disarmament, India can manufacture a weapon, "but we have kept our options open. We did not use our options."

"We did not graduate ourselves from the threshold level, because we want that there should be universally verifiable, non-discriminatory non-proliferation arrangement, all over the world, and in every country, including the nuclear weapon states, should have equal rights, should have equal obligations, and there should be a total stoppage of both horizontal and vertical proliferation.

"As the international community did not listen to India and because of its geopolitical situation, New Delhi had to go for the second nuclear explosions in 1998," Mukherjee said.

But "there, too, immediately after that, irrespective of sanctions or not, we voluntarily declared our nuclear doctrine," he added.

He spelt out the doctrine as: "There will be no first use, it will not be used against non-nuclear weapon states, a voluntary moratorium on further tests, and a minimum credible deterrent for self-defence, not for aggression."

India's concept of non-proliferation and disarmament does not merely mean arms control or non-proliferation, Mukherjee said. "Disarmament is more comprehensive. Non-proliferation and arms control, control of weapons of mass destructions are part of the disarmament.

"If we accept universally, verifiable, non-discriminatory, non-proliferation regime we like to contribute its might and that process, it is still open. We are still open to do that," Mukherjee added.

Earlier on the same show, Washington's key negotiator on the nuclear deal, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns hoped "the nuclear deal will happen" to bring about a "tremendous strategic change" in their relationship to their mutual benefit.

"The nuclear deal is done. We hope that will happen. I think Americans might be able to say 20 years from now, India is one of our most two or three most important partners in the world.

"That will be a tremendous strategic change for us from the relationship we've had with India since 1947, 60 years now, and a great benefit to us, and I think it will be to the Indians as well.

"India is a global country. It's a democracy. It tends to see the world the way we do. It has an interest in stability in South and East Asia the way we do," he said arguing that Washington's evolving strategic relationship with India went beyond its economic growth.

"I think well beyond that. We live in a globalised world, where many of the problems confronting us do not lend themselves to the actions of even the most powerful state, the United States.

"You need friends. You need allies. You need countries to help you build democracies overseas, to resolve conflicts like the one in Burma (Myanmar) that we're witnessing so dramatically this week, to overcome global climate change and international drug and criminal cartels," Burns said.