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India can't afford to miss nuclear bus: PM
August 31, 2007 17:20 IST
He also affirmed that a strong nuclear energy programme was in the country's "vital" interest.
Dedicating two high-efficiency nuclear reactors to the nation, he said international cooperation in nuclear power generation would not be dependent on any one country. "We will source supplies from many of the countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group including the Unites States, Russia [Images] and France [Images]," he said.
There was no direct reference in his two speeches to the deal and the understanding reached on it with the Left parties, but the prime minister left no one in doubt that government would move ahead on the agreement with the United States.
Singh, who explained reasons for going in for nuclear energy, underpinned the need to pave the way for the country to benefit from "nuclear commerce without restrictions".
The prime minister, who also addressed new graduates of BARC training school, said the government was "fully committed" to strengthening the autonomy of a nuclear research and development programme.
"Our unique three-stage programme, which is predicated on the need to utilise our vast thorium deposits, is a logical response to the needs of our economy," he said.
The Left allies interpreted a joint statement issued after a meeting with Singh and top Congress leaders by saying that the deal had been put on hold.
"There is today talk the world over of a nuclear renaissance and we cannot afford to miss the bus or lag behind these global developments," the prime minister contended in his speech at Tarapore.
The prime minister acknowledged that international cooperation in this regard with the US, Russia, France and other countries "cannot become effective until the 45-member NSG adapted its guidelines to enable nuclear commerce with India".
"The NSG itself has made it clear that they will not do so till the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Association is finalised," Singh said.
Once these steps are taken, India can commence civil nuclear cooperation with all the 45 members of the NSG.
"This will signal the end of our international isolation of the last few decades. India is now too important a country to remain outside the international mainstream in this critical area," he said.
He referred to the "modest target" of 20,000 MW of nuclear power generation by the year 2020.
"This can be doubled with the opening up of international cooperation."
Expressing full confidence in scientists and engineers, the Prime Minister said he believed that the removal of "iniquitous restrictions and shackles on our programme will enhance our indigenous capabilities".