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India to retain right to future N-tests: PM
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Indo-US Nuclear Tango

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August 23, 2006 20:40 IST
Ruling out any bilateral pact with the United States that would put a cap on India's military nuclear programme, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Wednesday said New Delhi will retain the "sovereign right" on deciding whether to carry out any atomic tests in the future despite the civil nuclear deal with Washington.

He told the Lok Sabha that while the deal with the US would put India at par with 5 nuclear weapon states, there was a "question mark" on the issue of inter-changeability between military and civilian nuclear reactors as New Delhi does not have the status of a nuclear weapon state as per the non-proliferation norms.

Winding up the crucial debate on the deal, Singh assured the House that his government would work for a "broad national consensus" on the issue.

"There is no scope for capping of our strategic programme. It will be decided by the people, government and Parliament of the country and not by any outside power," the prime minister asserted allaying concerns raised by members and some scientists.

Making it clear that India will not give any commitment that goes beyond the unilateral moratorium on future nuclear tests, Singh said if required by the circumstances, New Delhi will have the "sovereign right to take a decision" on atomic tests in the national interest.

"We are not willing to have any treaty or agreement. We are not in favour of a bilateral Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with the US. This has been made unambiguously clear to the US," he emphasised.

He said if any "extraneous" elements were incorporated in the deal agreed by US President George W Bush [Images] and him on July 18, 2005 that go in a "direction that hurts us", India will "draw appropriate conclusions."

New Delhi will not accept anything that would impinge on the autonomy or compromise the country's strategic nuclear programme, Singh said.

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