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US sees 'different agenda'

India's idea of separating civilian and military nuke establishments doesn't meet 'minimum standard', Mulford said.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 17:14 IST

US Ambassador David C Mulford has said that India's idea of separating civilian and military nuclear establishments does not meet the 'test' of credibility and 'minimum standard' that would be required for the Congress to act favourably.

He says that if India did not put a 'great majority' of its nuclear reactors into the civilian programme, the American Congress would think that New Delhi has an agenda different from that of developing civilian nuclear industry. What the US fears this agenda could be is very clear.

"The condition that has to be met for the civil nuclear cooperation deal to be successfully negotiated is that there has to be a credible separation of civil nuclear from strategic," he said in an interview earlier this week.

India has 22 nuclear reactors and differences persist between the two countries on the issue of how many of these should be put in the civil side so that they could be brought under IAEA inspection.

Talking a week after the meeting between Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns on the nuclear issue, after which the latter spoke about 'difficulties ahead' in the negotiations, Mulford said that India must elaborate on its plan for better credibility.

He said that India does not have to fully implement the plan, but has to commit to it. "On the basis of that commitment from India, we would seek to change the US law and gain the consensus of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the world, a group of 35 countries that control nuclear technology and fuel," the Ambassador said.

"If the plan that's put forward doesn't appear to put the great majority of nuclear reactors into the civilian programme, then I think that the members of the Congress might doubt India's plans to develop nuclear technology. They might say that if India are clean-hearted then why are they putting so little on the civil side," he said.

In a discussion with Saran two days back, Burns had said that there are a 'few issues' that remain 'barriers'.

After his talks with Burns, Saran had said that they had arrived at the conclusion that this issue needs to be discussed in greater detail in the coming days.

"It doesn't do any good to agree to a plan that isn't credible and then try to sell it to 35 countries and a 100 senators and 400 plus members of the House. You know, you have got to be sure that you will get the votes in your favour," Mulford said.

Queried whether the agreement was possible given the apprehensions, he said it was 'entirely possible' and was possible relatively quickly, if India came up with the sort of revisions to its thinking that would result in a credible plan.

The Ambassador said that the deal offered India a chance to develop its nuclear industry and also to fully engage in the research and technological developments that are taking place in the nuclear field on the civil side.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 17:14 IST