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Willing to take risks: PM on N-deal

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Last updated on: August 17, 2006 21:04 IST

Making the long-awaited statement on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said, "I am aware of the risks of this deal but for India's sake, I am willing to take those risks."

The prime minister also made it clear that India would make its 'own assessment' of its nuclear weapon programme in this 'uncertain and unpredictable world' and said that must remain the 'cardinal principle' of the country's nuclear policy.

Replying to a day-long debate on Indo-US nuclear deal in Rajya Sabha, Dr Singh said while India remained committed to total nuclear disarmament, 'in this uncertain, unpredictable world we have legitimate concerns'.

He, however, asserted that no legislation made in a foreign land can take away 'our sovereign right'.

There is no question of India being cowed down by a law passed by a foreign land, he said responding to criticism that India's interest had been compromised by the bill passed by the US House of Representatives.

"Our foreign policy is determined strongly by our national interest...We have not allowed any country, howsoever powerful, to influence our policy," Dr Singh said. "This will not be allowed as long as I happen to be the prime minister."

The prime minister said his government was 'unswervingly' committed to the 'independence' of the foreign policy.

Describing the US as a 'pre-eminent power', he said good relations with it was in India's national interest. But this should not in any way 'cloud' India's say in international affairs, Dr Singh said adding New Delhi had not compromised in any way.

The prime minister said, "We have made it clear to the US that India's strategic programme is totally outside the purview of the July 18 statement."

"There is no question of American inspectors roaming around our nuclear facilites", he said, referring to areas that do not come within the India-specific agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"There is no question of India joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state", he said. "India will not go beyond the unilateral voluntary moratorium (on nuclear testing) as specified in the July 18 statement."

Dr Singh stressed that the US legislation must conform 'strictly' to the July 18, 2005 agreement and the Separation Plan. "This alone will be the acceptable basis for nuclear cooperation with the US," he said.

The prime minister said he would hold discussions with the Atomic Energy Commission and a group of renowned scientists, who had raised certain issues to evolve a broad-based national consensus.

"We will not accept any condition that go beyond the July 18 statement," he said adding in the event of any "extraneous" conditionality in the US legislation, the government would "draw its own conclusion" if it was not in conformity with the assurance made to Parliament and to people.

Dr Singh said in the event of disruption of supplies, India would have the option to take remedial action. He said there was no question of accepting nuclear inspectors from third countries outside the framework of the India specific safeguards agreement with IAEA. 

Asserting that sensitive nuclear technology had not been covered in the separation plan, he said: "There will be no external supervision of our research and Development work in the nuclear field."

The prime minister said he had taken up with President Bush India's concerns and added ground rules for discussions were clear.

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