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'No scrutiny of strategic projects'

The external affairs minister says India will not allow even outside interference in its strategic programmes.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2006 15:24 IST

India will not allow external scrutiny of its strategic programme or even interference with it, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

"We have always maintained that the conduct of the foreign policy, determined solely by out national interests, is our sovereign right," Mukherjee said.

Contending that every stage towards resumption of civil nuclear cooperation was "important", Mukherjee said "the test of this process is for India to secure full civil nuclear cooperation with the international community while protecting our strategic programme and maintaining the integrity of our three-stage nuclear programme and indigenous R&D".

The minister said the US Administration has categorically assured India that this legislation enabled Washington to fulfill all of the commitments it made in the July 18, 2005 and March 2, 2006 joint statements.

It also assured that the legislation, passed by the US Congress on Saturday, "explicitly authorises" civil nuclear cooperation with India in a manner "fully consistent" with these two statements, he said.

"We fully expect the July 18 statement and the March 2 Separation Plan to be reflected in the text of the 123 Agreement" to be worked out bilaterally between India and the US, Mukherjee said.

The government, he said, was committed to creating a climate where Indian scientists and technologists could participate in and contribute to international initiatives in various fields.

"We have taken a big step towards that goal," he said expressing confidence that the House would continue to support the government in this endeavour.

Terming the nuclear understanding with the US as "significant" from the larger perspective of India's energy security, he said "energy has become a critical constraint to expanding our economic growth and development".

Noting that nuclear energy at present provides less than three per cent of the energy mix, he said current estimates envisaged nuclear power generation of 30,000 MWe by 2022 and 63,000 MWe by 2032.

The absence of international cooperation seriously constrained India from reaching these targets. "Our access to nuclear energy is impeded by an international regime and requires a political solution consistent with our national security and energy requirements".

"Keeping that in mind, the enactment of waivers from certain provisions of the US Atomic Energy Act, which allows the US to cooperate with India in civilian nuclear energy despite our not accepting full scope safeguards and despite maintaining a strategic programme, is significant", he said.

India, he said, recognised the initiative that President George W Bush has taken to make these exceptions for India possible. New Delhi has noted the bipartisan support that this initiative has garnered in the US Congress.

First Published: Dec 12, 2006 14:45 IST