Last offer: 65 p.c. of N-facilities, no fast breeder | india | Hindustan Times
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Last offer: 65 p.c. of N-facilities, no fast breeder

JUST TWO days ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday clearly spelt out the extent to which India was willing to go to accommodate US concerns about the country's nuclear programme. Making a suo motu statement in Parliament, the PM said India would not succumb to any pressure. "The decision of what facilities may be identified as civilian will be made by India alone, and not by anyone else."

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 01:38 IST

JUST TWO days ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday clearly spelt out the extent to which India was willing to go to accommodate US concerns about the country's nuclear programme.

Making a suo motu statement in Parliament, the PM said India would not succumb to any pressure. "The decision of what facilities may be identified as civilian will be made by India alone, and not by anyone else." He said India "cannot accept safeguards on our indigenous Fast Breeder Programme", and would ensure that no impediments were placed on its research and development activities.

The US has been demanding that the Fast Breeder Programme be put on the civilian list and thus under IAEA safeguards.

Sources said by his public articulation of the proposed separation plan and details, the PM has thrown the ball back to Washington's court. "This is as far as India can go -- either you accept it or you don't," a source said. A positive answer was expected from the US, and would be apparent by the time the US president arrived, officials said.

Timing his statement to coincide with the time when offices are up and running in Washington was a clear indicator that the PM had not only Parliament, but also Washington as his target audience.

In his statement, Manmohan Singh, for the first time, provided broad outlines of the proposed separation plan, identifying in phases "roughly 65 per cent of total installed thermal nuclear power capacity, by the end of the separation plan".

Though ruling out the inclusion of the Fast Breeder programme in the civilian list, Singh said some other Department of Atomic Energy facilities could be added to the list. He stressed that the separation plan "will create a clearly defined civilian domain where IAEA safeguards apply".

On the recent discussions on the issue between India and US officials, Singh said they have focused on four critical elements. They were the "broad contours of a separation plan, the list of facilities being classified civilian, the nature of safeguards applied to facilities listed in the civilian domain and the nature and scope of changes expected in US domestic laws and NSG guidelines to enable full civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India".

He emphasised that the July 18, 2005, joint statement agreed upon by him and President Bush was "not about our strategic programme".

Stressing that India's national security would not be compromised, the PM said US interlocutors have been told that "there are details of the nature and content of our strategic requirements that we cannot share".

Reminding Washington that "reciprocity was the key" entailed in the July 18 statement, the PM said certain assurances relating to supply of imported fuel for Tarapur I and II "remain to be fulfilled".

India, with its "impeccable" non-proliferation credentials, he said, was "committed not to divert any nuclear material intended for the civilian domain from designated civilian use or for export to third countries without safeguards".