Dismissing the notion that its agreement with the United States on sharing civilian nuclear technology amounts to weakening of the non-proliferation regime, India has said the deal is based on a "very close" understanding of security interests of the two countries and is aimed at making the world more secure.
"India has a unique track record. It is the first country in Asia to build a nuclear reactor on its own. You are talking about a country which has about 50 years of experience of handling nuclear assets," Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen said in an interview to the Dallas Morning News.
He rejected the notion that the Indo-US nuclear deal amounts to weakening of the non-proliferation regime. "Absolutely not. It is based on a very close understanding of the national security interests of both our countries and to making the world a safer and more secure place," he told the paper.
Citing "with justifiable pride" India's track record on proliferation, Sen said, "Nothing has leaked from India. We put into place such tight controls on preventing anything from leaving our country. And we've had these in place much before they were codified in international treaties and norms. It's an impeccable track record. And this is recognised."
He said that one reason why the agreement is so important to India in spite of the country's long know-how with nuclear technology is because of the fact that India is "uniquely disadvantaged" in terms of access to energy resources.
"We have coal, which is located in just one part of the country. So beyond a certain radius it's uneconomical to produce electricity. And secondly, it's dirty coal. It's coal with very high ash content. Hydroelectric power is very limited. If you look at oil and gas, 70 per cent is imported. That is going to increase, and we don't know if it will be $30 a barrel or $80 a barrel," Sen said.
Because of the "uncertain situation" in Pakistan and Afghanistan, "we are cut off from Central Asia resources. China is right next door to all the Central Asian republics, which have some of the biggest oil and gas reserves in the world. India is bottled up. We have to move on several fronts. We can do it (nuclear power generation) on our own, but we want to do it on a larger scale. People talk about proliferation, but we already have that ability. So it's not a question of proliferation. It's about making energy available," the Indian Ambassador said.
Asked what the US-India partnership meant in practical terms to New Delhi, Sen argued that it was not just about the promotion of democracy. "It's about promotion of the fight against international terrorism. We have also a US initiative on fighting pandemics like HIV-AIDS. We are jointly presenting papers at the multilateral trading negotiations," he said.
"We are having armed forces exchanges. We hope there will be more cooperation between the defence industries in both our countries. We're talking about cooperation in terms of our plans for nuclear energy," he added.