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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Safeguards won’t hit N-weapons programme: PM

Manmohan Singh stressed that the agreement with the US would enable India to access nuclear technology and fuel from all 45 members of the NSG, reports Amit Baruah.Nuke clearWhat rankles the RedsSpl: Nuclear deal imbroglio

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2008 01:01 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times

India's civil nuclear cooperation efforts will not “impinge” on the country’s military programme, the Prime Minister said at his residence on Tuesday.

New Delhi’s strategic nuclear programme was entirely outside the purview of the safeguards’ agreement with the IAEA, said Manmohan Singh.

A press release issued by his office said civil nuclear deal would help the country address the challenges of energy security and high-technology development.

The PM stressed that the agreement with the US would enable India to access nuclear technology and fuel from all 45 members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

India, he said, would never allow any “extraneous interference” in the conduct of its independent foreign policy, adding that New Delhi would continue to seek good relations with all its Asian neighbours.

In a related development, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and PM’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran emphasised to select foreign diplomats the importance of completing the next steps in the deal.

They sought support from envoys of countries belonging to the IAEA’s board of governors as well as the NSG for the passage of the safeguards’ agreement when the agency’s board met on August 1.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan and Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Afrasayab were invited for the meeting, which was called at short notice. China is a member of the NSG and the IAEA board of governors.

At a briefing at Hyderabad House on Monday, the officials said India was seeking a “clean exemption” from NSG — without any additional conditionalities. The government conveyed that if any conditionalities were imposed by the NSG, then the domestic political situation would require India to re-open the issue of civil nuclear cooperation.

Time and again, diplomatic sources said, the officials stressed the importance of the deal for India. When one diplomat suggested the process should not be rushed, it was pointed out that support for the deal was a “goodwill” issue for India.

The officials said the deal was in the interests of the international community given India’s impeccable non-proliferation credentials.

Pointing to the country’s energy needs, greater use of nuclear power by India would help address the issue of global warming, they added.