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Home > News > PTI

Americans could break N-deal at any time: Sethna

December 12, 2006 22:06 IST

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Indo-US Nuclear Tango
Warning that the US could break the civil nuclear deal at any time, former Atomic Energy Commission chairman H N Sethna on Tuesday said India should ensure the pact would give it uninterrupted supply of nuclear fuel and the freedom to reprocess spent fuel.

India should stick to the joint statement of July 18, 2005 issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush and be aware of the fact that the agreement can be broken any time by the Americans as "they do not stick to any morality like Indians", Sethna, a key figure for decades in India's nuclear programme, told reporters in Mumbai.

India should fully understand the ramifications of the deal with the US before signing it and stick to the joint statement of July 18, 2005, he said.

Without touching on the bill recently cleared by the US Congress that is yet to be signed by Bush, Sethna said if India signs the pact, it should make sure it receives an uninterrupted supply of fuel and has the freedom to reprocess spent fuel.

Claiming the deal is not favourable for India, the 83-year-old Sethna said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's hands are "tied" as the country needs uranium fuel for expanding its nuclear programme to achieve energy security.

"I am sure the prime minister will not take any steps that would harm the country's interest," he said. Asked if India can walk out of the deal, he asked, "...whether (India) will be able to withstand the pressure of sanctions? India cannot afford to do it after signing the deal."

Sethna said India needs a large number of committed young people to take up the challenge if any future American leader decides to withdraw from the deal. This would have to be done, he said, in a changed global scenario when attractive jobs are available within and outside the country.

Blaming the external affairs ministry for not doing any homework on the proposed nuclear deal, he said it was unfortunate that it did not take top scientific and defence officials into confidence while taking up the issue.

Asked whether the US have sought a backdoor entry for India into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with the passage of the bill in the Congress last week, he said, "The NPT is a dead duck as proliferation has already taken place in North Korea and Pakistan with smuggled enriched uranium."

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