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Rice assuages fears, BJP wants nuclear deal off

While Oppn urges Govt to call off the pact, US secy of state assures promises will be kept, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 04:32 IST

Whilethe Opposition BJP urged the Manmohan Singh government to call off the nuclear deal with the United States following the passage of the waiver law, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought to assure India that the commitments made with regard to the deal would be fulfilled.

Rice said in a statement that "the United States intends to fulfil all of the commitments it made to India in the July 18 and March 2 Joint Statements", according to a PTI report.

Rice said the bill, which goes to the US president for his signature now, explicitly authorises civil nuclear cooperation with India in a manner fully consistent with the US-India joint statements.

In Delhi, after a meeting of top BJP leaders at AB Vajpayee's residence, the party said that the US legislation allowing nuclear trade with India was aimed at "eliminating" New Delhi's nuclear weapons capability and asked the government to reject it.

Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said that under the law passed by the US Congress, there was an absolute ban on further nuclear tests, including those for peaceful purposes.

Sinha said, "The deal is more unequal than ever before....Worse, in spite of the assurances of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Parliament, the US Act seriously compromises the independence of our foreign policy."

The BJP leader said that since the July 2005 agreement, the US has been "shifting the goalposts" and India had not only been "acquiescing , but also adopting the new goalposts as the latest benchmark".

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First Published: Dec 11, 2006 01:43 IST