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'India to join non-proliferation regime'

According to Burns, India has been kept out of NPT and US N-deal would bring India into the global regime.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2006 02:13 IST

India has been kept out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and America's civil nuclear deal with it would bring it into the global regime, according to US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.

Burns made the remark while responding at yet another briefing on Wednesday on the US-India nuclear deal to a question from an Egyptian journalist on whether the US would now apply a similar yardstick to the countries in the Middle East.

"The case of India is India has not been allowed to be a member of the NPT. It's been kept outside the system," he said, pointing out that a majority of countries in the Middle East were signatories to the non-proliferation regime.

"So therefore, you already have the ability to work with private American companies to build nuclear power plants and to receive peaceful civil nuclear technology if you're a member of the NPT," Burns said.

At the same time, he pointed out: "India is soon to be the largest country in the world by population. It is one of the great democracies of the world. It is a country that has always stood up for peaceful resolutions of disputes.

"It's a country that has not been aggressive towards its neighbours, but has been seeking to resolve problems with its neighbours. So it's an ironic situation and certainly, an anomalous situation when a great country like India is forced to stand outside of the system and we're just trying to bring India in," Burns said.

"India is accepting international oversight, accepting international inspections. Who can argue with that? Who wouldn't want to see the largest country in the world, the largest democracy in the world (to) come into the international system and willingly submit itself to inspections?

"We think that's a net gain, a strong net gain for the international proliferation system and that's why we have proposed this agreement between our two countries."

Burns said the countries in the Middle East that had signed the NPT already had "the ability to work with private American companies to build nuclear plants and to receive peaceful civil nuclear technology".

Burns said the administration's congressional briefings on the US-India nuclear deal agreed to March 3 by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "have gone very well".

"Next week, there'll be formal briefings of the relevant committees that have jurisdiction over the legislation and then the following week, Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice is going to be testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as the House International Relations Committee," he said.