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India a responsible nuclear power: PM
October 23, 2004 17:15 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday opposed 'artificial restrictions' on the peaceful use of nuclear technology, and said it amounted to rewarding those who were 'irresponsible' and constraining those responsible.
Pouring concrete for a fast breeder program at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research Centre at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, he asserted India would not be a source of proliferation of sensitive technology.
He said the limitation of the non-proliferation regime should not be accentuated by artificial restrictions on genuine peaceful nuclear applications.
''India is a responsible nuclear power. We are fully conscious of the immense responsibilities that come with the possession of advanced technology, both civilian and strategic. While we are determined to utilize our indigenous resources and capabilities to fulfill our national interests, we are doing so in a manner that is not contrary to the larger goal of nuclear non-proliferation,'' Singh said.
Maintaining that nuclear energy was cost effective, he said it was a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. ''We are determined to utilize its full potential for the national good. It can also be a much-needed cushion against fluctuations in oil prices,'' he said.
The prime minister said energy security was an issue of vital importance, particularly in the context of accelerating the pace of economic growth. ''If we succeed in instituting an optimal mix of energy resources, in which nuclear energy is an important component, we will be able to ensure our energy security.''
India's low per capita energy consumption could not for long go hand in hand with the quest for an accelerated pace of economic growth, he said.
''We have embarked on a major program to generate 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020. By 2008, we hope to add 4000 MW, including the two 1000 MW nuclear reactors coming up at Koodamkulam, in collaboration with the Russian Federation.''
The prime minister said it was a matter of national pride that India had developed comprehensive capabilities in the gamut of fuel cycle operations. India was among the select group of nations that had the ability to recover plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel and use it to produce power in thermal and fast reactors. This path will ensure for the country a large quantum of nuclear power on a sustainable basis, he said.
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