India not to accept new conditions: PM
The government on Wednesday told Lok Sabha that India will accept no new conditionalities in the civil nuclear deal with the US with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring the House that there will be no compromise with the understanding of July 18 last year.
Intervening during the Question Hour, Manmohan said his government was making efforts to ensure "utmost transparency" and "overall accountability" with respect to the deal reached between him and US President George W Bush.
"We will never compromise in a manner which is not consistent with the July 18 Joint Statement," Singh told the Lok Sabha.
Noting that he had apprised Parliament more than once, Manmohan Singh said the government was ready for a debate on the issue and he was willing to make a suo motu statement on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The Prime Minister's response came after Deputy Leader of the BJP VK Malhotra sought a debate on the nuclear issue to which Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he had no objection but a notice would have to be given for it.
Earlier, replying to a volley of questions from members of Left parties, Samajwadi Party and BJP, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said the deal related to only civilian nuclear cooperation and that the country's strategic programme was intact.
"Our strategic programme is free from any interference," he said.
On members' apprehensions over certain conditions mentioned in the two bills to be voted by the US House of Representatives and the Senate, Sharma said these were premature as "there is no final legislation."
Pointing out that the nuclear deal was based on reciprocity, he said nothing that is not within the templates defined in the July 18,2005 joint statement will be accepted.
"There is no deviation from the assurances given by the Prime Minister" in July last year and March this year to Parliament, the Minister said.
"Our position remains the same," he said adding "no fresh obligations" or "new conditions" will be accepted by India.
Emphasising that environmentally-clean nuclear energy was essential for India's economic and knowledge growth, Sharma said New Delhi was holding talks with other countries, including France and Russia, for civilian nuclear cooperation.
Noting that Washington has an obligation to amend the 1954 US Atomic Energy Act to allow nuclear trade with India under the nuclear deal, he said the two bills, after being voted in the two Houses of the US Congress, will be subjected to reconciliation.
"We have to await what comes out of the two Houses (of US Congress)," the minister said.
He said the implemenation of the Indo-US deal will end nuclear apartheid against New Delhi, a development which will be beneficial for the country's research programme besides ensuring energy security and economic development.
It is intended to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, he said.
Seeking to dispel the impression that India's vote against Iran's nuclear programme at IAEA meetings was linked to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Sharma said there was no force from anyone on New Delhi's policies.
India is against use of "coercion" to resolve Iran's nuclear issue and wants it to be settled within the IAEA, he said adding it was because of New Delhi that major amendments were effected in the resolution on Iran at the IAEA meeting in February.
India respects Iran's right to nuclear energy for civilian purposes but at the same time Tehran has certain obligations as a signatory to the NPT and Additional Protocol to it, the minister said.