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Rediff.com  » News » Strategic nuclear programme to continue: PM

Strategic nuclear programme to continue: PM

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Last updated on: March 07, 2006 13:48 IST

Spelling out the separation plan under the Indo-US nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said there will be no capping of the country's strategic programme and that Washington had assured uninterrupted supply of fuel to Indian reactors under international safeguards.

Complete Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango

"India has decided to place under safeguards all future civilian thermal power reactors and civilian breeder reactors, and the Indian government retains the sole right to determine such reactors as civilian," Dr Singh told Parliament.

"This means that India will not be constrained in any way in building future nuclear facilities, whether civilian or military, as per our national requirements," he added.

The prime minister's announcement comes within days of India and the United States reaching a landmark pact for implementing the July 18, 2005, agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation during the visit of President George W Bush to India.

Complete Coverage: Dr Singh in the US

Dispelling members' apprehensions that the nuclear deal will hamper country's weapons programme, Dr Singh said, "The separation plan ensures adequacy of fissile material and other inputs to meet current and future requirements of our strategic programme, based on our assessment of threat scenarios."

The prime minister made it clear that no constraint had been placed on India's right to construct new facilities for strategic purposes. "The integrity of our Nuclear Doctrine and our ability to sustain a minimum credible nuclear deterrent is adequately protected," he clarified.

Giving the salient elements of the plan to separate civilian and military nuclear facilities, Dr Singh said India will identify and offer 14 thermal power reactors between 2006-14 for International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

There are 22 thermal power reactors in operation or currently under construction in the country. Of these, 14 will be placed under safeguards by 2014 in a phased manner. This will raise the total installed thermal power capacity in megawatts under safeguards from 19 per cent at present to 65 per cent by 2014, he said.

The prime minister also announced that India had decided to permanently shut down the CIRUS reactor in 2010. "The fuel core of the Apsara reactor was purchased from France, and we are prepared to shift it from its present location and make it available for placing under safeguards in 2010," he said.

Noting that both CIRUS and Apsara are located at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Dr Singh said, "We have decided to take these steps rather than allow intrusive inspections in a nuclear facility of high national security importance. We are determined that such steps will not hinder on-going research and development."

The prime minister said India's nuclear policy will continue to guided by restraint and responsibility. He said that it had been conveyed to the US that India will not accept safeguards on the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor and the Fast Breeder Test Reactor, both located at Kalpakkam. The Fast Breeder Programme is at the research and development stage.

Complete Coverage: Bush's India Visit

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