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Home > News > Report

'We can trust the government'

February 27, 2006 22:12 IST

Rediff columnist Ambassador T P Sreenivasan, a distinguished diplomat who served as India's deputy chief of mission in Washington, DC, is upbeat about the nuclear deal with the US.

'Even President Clinton, with all his goodwill, could not think of such a deal. The fixation with China may have contributed to the change,' he said in an exclusive chat with rediff viewers.

For those of you who missed the chat, here is the complete transcript:


rgrajiv:is nuclear deal the only issue of bush's visit??..what else is cooking??
T.P.Sreenivasan:The nuclear deal is the centre piece of the visit. There are, of course, other matters, but this is a change of heart on the part of the US.


hi:Dear Sreenivasan: Why is this nuclear deal so hyped about?
T.P.Sreenivasan:The nuclear deal is something we have been wanting ever since the NPT came into force to end our nuclear isolation.


riniv:Should not India force WIN WIN situation when dealing with US
T.P.Sreenivasan:If we could, we would. But in this case, there should be a balance of rights and obligations.


menon:Mr Sreenivasan: Dont you think the Bush visit is a diplomatic nonsense? What would the poor people in India achieve by his visit?
T.P.Sreenivasan:If the visit leads to generation of more electricity, it will benefit the poor people.


SZ:Dear Srinivasan, Can we trust the happenings when leftists in power and they have used it as an avenue for some self promotion in the international stalinist circle with Iran, Hamas etc ? To understand better, can you please say How the neuclear deal would affect china ?
T.P.Sreenivasan:Today, the US sells nuclear technology to China, but not to India. The leftists are merely trying to make political capital. There is a consensus that we should get nuclear technology without signing the NPT and the CTBT


sachin:will they discuss on iran and is india underpressure over iran issue
T.P.Sreenivasan:We are as concerned as the US thatIran might embark on a nuclear weapons track.


ramananda:sir, given the US track record re Pakistan and other places, why should we trust them? How can we be sure that we will not be used and dumped, like Pakistan was during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan?
T.P.Sreenivasan:In international relations, we trust, but verify. There is no other way.


SZ:Mr Srinivasan, are you yourself convinced that it is all about electricity ? As an engineer, I am not convinced.
T.P.Sreenivasan:We have chosen our energy mix which includes nuclear power. Therefore we need nuclear power for generation of electricity.


Bush:Do you think PM is stooping too much to accomodate the American demands?
T.P.Sreenivasan:No. He is sticking to the July 18 agreement, which is a balanced deal.


USA:Ambassador Srinivasan, do you think the nuclear deal will agreed upon on this visit by Bush? Or are we unnecessarily being too hopeful?
T.P.Sreenivasan:The discussion may go beyond the visit, but the breakthrough of July 18 should be preserved.


srini:india has since 1970's scarcely relied on foreign technology for developing our nuclear assets!Do u really think signing this deal with US will accelerate this process.In any case,without this deal we're going full throttle in FBR programmes at Kalpakkam
T.P.Sreenivasan:Our scientists have been anxious to end our nuclear isolation. We cannot rely entirely on one kind of fuel. We need not reinvent the wheel if technology is available in the market


arjun:Sir, How much of a visit like this is about the actual leaders -- PM Singh and Bush -- and how much is it about the officials who do the actual crossing the t's and dotting the i's?
T.P.Sreenivasan:Officials just do the spade work. The leaders take the decisions and take the responsibility.


arthurkk:Mr Sreenivasan: Where are you settled now? In US? Are you living with your famous son Sreenath these days?
T.P.Sreenivasan:I am in Kerala. I dont have the luxury of staying with my son. But I do visit him, his wife and our grandchildren


ramananda:And sir, what are the US considerations behind wooing India? Do you agree with the 'counterweight to China' theory?
T.P.Sreenivasan:I dont. But the Republicans are convinced that India needs to balance China.


bushy:sir will India's growing closeness with the US affect our defence relationship with Russia?
T.P.Sreenivasan:We are mature enough to keep the two relationships separate and sound.


sengupta:Sir, do you think the fears raised by the Indian nuclear scientists are true, or is it just a game of brinkmanship, as in the PM trying to raise the bar?
T.P.Sreenivasan:The scientists tend to tell the truth and we should respect their views. Thay had accepted the July 18 deal.


ramya:Mr.TPS, isn't it an irony that the Nuclear deal is at the centre of Mr.Bush's visit and just days before the visit, 2 top Indian scientists are humiliated by the US embassy and their visas rejected?
T.P.Sreenivasan:The Americans are famous for such gaffes. Remember how they refused a visa to Dr. Chidambaram in 1998?


sengupta:given that we produce barely 3 per cent of our power from nuclear plants, don't you think the gas deal with Iran has more strategic importance?
T.P.Sreenivasan:These are not mutually exclusive. In any case we need the gas in the short term.


bushy:Sir, given our historic ties with Islamic Republic of Iran, will the subsequent vote against Iran affect our energy ties in the future?
T.P.Sreenivasan:We did not vote against Iran. We urged Iran to clear its name. If it doies not, the matter will go to the Security Council. It has nothing to do with our energy deals with Iran.


bharathan:Sir, why are diplomats like you are so upbeat about the nuclear deal? I am sure more than 90 percent of Indians are not bothered about this hyped nuclear deal. Your comments please
T.P.Sreenivasan:Having worked for such a deal for many years, I feel that something unthinkable during my days in Washington has been achieved. It is a major change on the part of the US.


bushy:Mr Ambassador, do u really believe with the nuclear deal really reflects a changing attitude in the US starting from Nixon to now Bush and we really prepared with this strategic fixation with regards to China?
T.P.Sreenivasan:There is a definite change. Even President Clinton, with all his goodwill, could not think of such a deal. The fixation with China may have contributed to the change.


sengupta:Mr Sreenivasan, does the proposed nuclear deal impinge on our national security in any way? What are the strategic implications?
T.P.Sreenivasan:The separation will ensure that our strategic interests will be safeguarded. This is not about nuclear weapons at all.


srini:why has Washington not gone strong against Pakistan's abyssmal profileration records,Military regime & a Terrorist Harboring System when they are so hellbent on denuclearising IRAN which clearly seems to be a little more responsible than PAK? is this just to track a single guy,OSAMA?
T.P.Sreenivasan:THe US attitude to Pakistan is hard to understand. Pakistan has caused more proliferation than IRaq. But the US is very tolerant. I do not understand this myself.


Raghotham:Mr. Sreenivasan, the US wants India to distance itself from all its friends and embrace it tightly and exclusively. This is a continuation of the Cold War mindset. But Indian diplomacy has made it seem as if India too is ready: give us the nuclear deal and we are ready for an alliance. I don't think that's our intent. Would you care to comment.
T.P.Sreenivasan:We do not need to alienate our friends. But we can do business with the US to our advantage.


Aaron:Do we expect any sort of UNSC commitments or word from President Bush
T.P.Sreenivasan:I dont. But the US has nothing to lose by backing India. To say that the time has not come is not fair.


ramakrish:mr srinivasan why do we buy nuclear energy from usa? are there any other countries which supplies nuclear energy like australia,russia etc.
T.P.Sreenivasan:They are all members of the NSG, which was set up to deny nuclear technology to India. The US is negotiating on behalf of all of them.


JWB:Mr Sreenivasan do you think that Americans are a reliable allies when it comes to technology transfers???
T.P.Sreenivasan:We need to explore all possibilities. We should have other options if the dispensation does not work out.


ramakrish:IAM VERY IMPRESSED WITH IRAN.WHY CANT WE BE LIKE IRAN.LET US PRODUCE OUR OWN NUCLEAR REACTORS LIKE IRAN DOES.TODAY NO COUNTRY CAN ATTACK IRAN
T.P.Sreenivasan:We have done that earlier than Iran. But we are not signatories to the NPT. Iran wants the cake and eat it too!


ramakrish:WE KNOW NORTH KOREA AND IRAN ARE ONE OF THE BEST NUCLEAR POWERS.NO COUNTRY CAN DEFEAT THEM. WHY CANT WE MAKE AN ALLY WITH IRAN AND N.KOREA RATHER THAN DEPENDING ON USA FOR OUR NEEDS.WHY CANT WE BUY NUCLEAR WEAPONS FROM THEM RATHER THAN LISTENING TO USA DEMANDS AND INSTRUCTIONS.ARE WE PUPPETS OF USA?
T.P.Sreenivasan:We have nuclear weapons and we dont need DPRK or Iran for that. We need uranium and the countries which have it are in the NSG. So we have to deal with the US and the NSG countries.


mak:SIR WE WANT PEACE IN INDIA .WE HAVE TO STOP BUSH TO VISIT INDIA
T.P.Sreenivasan:His visit is not going to disturb our peace. Adhiti Devo Bhava!


Vamsi:Sir,is it fair on our part to welcome bush who is one of the worst ever leader who always wants to fight against smaller countries..?
T.P.Sreenivasan:We have to look at him from our own point of view. He has shown willingness to do things no other US President has done for India.


ramananda:Sir, do you think the Bush visit will have any impact on the peace process with pakistan?
T.P.Sreenivasan:Yes. Bush has already said that he will ask Pakistan to close the terrorist camps. If Pakistan does that, the peace process will advance.


SZ:Thanks Mr Srinivasan for the answers. Do you thing the present govt has an outlook to understand these issues ? The scintists are opposing the deal, there must be something more than the emotion. Would you agree ?
T.P.Sreenivasan:The Government is constituted by some of the best brains in India. We can trust their wisdom and capabilities.


Yesweyen:Indias progress depends on Nuclear energy. Sreenivasan! Do you think the Bush visit and N-deal do any help?
T.P.Sreenivasan:In the present world situation, it is necessary to secure technology by reaching an accommodation with the nuclear weapon states. The nuclear deal holds the key.


VVK:It seems to me that the States in interested in India solely because of its market - which is not a bad Idea at all, as it is mutually beneficial. But a question arises in mymind therefrom: The States is also demanding much more than it is giving- be it technology transfers {defence or space etc}, market barriers etc. Why is that? Can it not see that both sides gain?
T.P.Sreenivasan:WE need to give and take. Our negotiators know how to strike the right balance as they did on July 18. If one side takes advantage, the deal is off.


Leo:Mr. Sreenivasan, am also from kerala. proud to see u in such a position to answer our ques. pls answer this too.Dont you think the technological ally which is gonna take place will have far reaching implications like other terrorist countries targeting India also as a part of U.S ally
T.P.Sreenivasan:We ourselves have been victims of terrorism. By having co-operatin with the US we may be able to combat terrorists better.


Anoop:Mr. Sreenivasan, do you think India had done all the home works required to tackle Mr. Bush, visiting India with a clear intention to interfere and route india's nuclear research.
T.P.Sreenivasan:We have a good record of dealing with our foreign visitors. We are a mature nation, which can cope with any interference.


bushy:SIR DO U THINK INDIA HAS AN INFERIOR COMPLEX WHEN IT DEALS WITH THE UNITED STATES ON IMPORTANT GLOBAL ISSUES?
T.P.Sreenivasan:Not at all. If anything, we feel that we have a better understanding of the world.


ramakrish:MR SREENIVASAN CAN YOU INTROUCE YOURSELF.WIL YOU GIVE ME YOUR YAHOO EMAIL ID
T.P.Sreenivasan:Please visit my website www.tpsreenivasan.com. It has all the information.


spider:Do you really think that nuclear energy is essential and that if we get it we will be able to achieve the kind of energy surplus that was there in the erstvile USSR?
T.P.Sreenivasan:I think the caht time is over. But let me say that it wuill be a long while for us to reach the stage of having surplus energy. Let us first get adequate energy for our needs. Goodbye.






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