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India is a responsible nuclear power: Mukherjee

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September 25, 2006 11:03 IST

Expressing confidence that the Indo-US nuclear deal would be cleared by the American senate, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the international community is prepared to cooperate with New Delhi in civilian nuclear programme as India has behaved very responsibly in this regard.

"There has been not a single case of outward proliferation though India was the first Asian nation to build indigenous atomic reactor and establish full fuel cycle," Mukherjee said, while addressing leaders of the Indian-American community in New York on Sunday.

"The international community is prepared to cooperate with New Delhi in the civil nuclear programme because India has behaved very responsibly," he said.

The defence minister expressed confidence that the Indo-US civilian deal would go through but pointed out that the relations between the two countries are not dependent on one issue and are spread across a spectrum of several areas.

India has used sensitive technologies with great care and caution and this was why the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was signed, he said.

He expressed hope that legislative and other procedures would be completed soon so that implementation process begins.

Mukherjee said the nuclear agreement would not affect the country's strategic programmes, including research and development, in the nuclear field.

The growing cooperation between India and the United States will benefit not only the two countries but have a positive global impact, Mukherjee said.

Besides the nuclear deal, he said India and the United States have taken several other initiatives including the open skies agreement, which led to increase in flights between the two countries.

This, he said, has made import by India of sensitive technologies easier and predictive, giving boost to cooperation across the entire spectrum of energy sources and laying the foundation for cooperation in defence industries.

The minister said that the Indian tradition of secularism and tolerance of other religions and ethnic groups has made it possible for Indians to make any place in the world their home and live in harmony with other groups.

In fact, he said, India could provide an alternative model of peaceful coexistence in an age of conflicts and bigotry.

Referring to the economic reforms, Mukherjee said the logic behind them was to 'strengthen ourselves to compete and, through competition, further strengthen our nation'.

He lauded the achievements of the Indian-Americans, their contribution in each and every sector of the economy of the United States and expressed the hope that they would play an equally strong role in the political arena at all levels.

Dharam Shourie in New York
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