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After Nepal, Natwar slams nuke deal

Former external affairs minister said, "There was no mention of proliferation and arms control in July '05 statement."

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 19:48 IST

After attacking the government over its handling of Nepal situation, former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh on Thursday picked holes in the March 2 Indo-US civil nuclear deal, saying it contained elements that were absent from the joint statement issued when the deal was announced last year.

There was no mention of proliferation and arms control in the July 18, 2005 statement issued jointly by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush, according to Natwar who was the External Affairs Minister at that time.

The Prime Minister is required to make a statement in Parliament as the nuclear issue has been taken to political level and the country was divided over it, he informed a news channel.

"I am fully confident that the Prime Minister will make a statement in Parliament, in both Houses, to clarify some of the doubts which have been raised because of the hearing (in the US Congress)," he said.

"He (the Prime Minister) will do and needs to do it (make the statement)," said the former External Affairs Minister.

He said the final agreement reached on March 2 this year carried elements that were not present in the July 18, 2005 document and that he got worried as the deal came up for discussion in the US Congress.

"There are various disquieting aspects to the hearings that took place and the nature of discussions. Not once was the word reciprocity used in Senate hearings. (Instead) the term 'unilateral' is used consistently," said Natwar.

He resigned in the wake of the Volcker Commitee report which accused him of being a 'non-contractual beneficiary' in the Iraq's Oil-for-Food scam.

Natwar Singh insisted that the July, 2005 document was about "energy and not about proliferation and arms control".

Also, he said, the original agreement did not refer to any curbs on nuclear fuel and missile development.

"The Fissile Materical Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) will imply a nuclear fuel cap and (then there is) the MTCR (Missile Test Control Regime), which means curbs on missile development. These didn't figure on 18th of July."

Natwar Singh also expressed his reservations to Bush's comments on Iran, Myanmar and Nepal while in New Delhi.

"Well I was very surprised when President Bush here in the Purana Qila made references to some of these countries on Indian soil. It shouldn't have been done," he said.

On remarks by some senior Bush Administration officials describing Iran as a "terrorist country", he said he expected "my government" to say "we don't share this view" and "make it clear that we are not going to come under pressure."

First Published: Apr 27, 2006 17:44 IST