PM asks scientists to help end N-apartheid

Manmohan assures nuclear scientists no changes would be allowed in the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2006 10:40 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met a group of top nuclear scientists on Saturday and allayed their fears by assuring them that no changes would be allowed to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

At a 90-minute meeting, the PM sought their help to “outline a path to take advantage of this new opening (provided by the nuclear agreement) to end the nuclear apartheid against India”.

The PM asked the National Security Advisor and the Department of Atomic Energy to remain in touch with the scientists — including Homi N Sethna, PK Iyengar and MR Srinivasan — and take their advice while negotiating the safeguards agreement and the India-specific additional protocol with the IAEA.

The PM had said in the Rajya Sabha that he would meet the scientists and address their concerns about the Indo-US nuclear deal.

According to an official statement after the meeting, the PM asked the scientists to show “how best to use the opportunities on the horizon, while minimising the risks and taking care of our national interests”.

The scientists “reiterated their concerns about the changes being sought by members of the US Congress to the July 18 2005 Joint Statement,” and the PM reiterated the assurances he had given to Parliament. After the meeting, the scientists appreciated the PM's statement on the issue to Parliament, saying, “Your statement was beautiful. We loved it.”

Earlier in the day, the PM chaired a meeting of the Atomic Energy Commission to ensure national interests were secured in the Indo-US nuclear deal. He also discussed the fuel shortage at atomic reactors and the need to ensure complete security at nuclear installations in the wake of increased threats of terrorist attacks.

First Published: Aug 26, 2006 00:00 IST