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'IAEA safeguards will confer N-status to India'
March 11, 2006 18:41 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday assured Parliament that the Separation Plan under the Indo-US nuclear deal would not adversely affect India's strategic programme to maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrence.
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"India will not accept the safeguards meant for non-nuclear weapon states which were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Dr Singh said, while replying to day-long debates on the Indo-US nuclear deal in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The five nuclear weapon states, which were permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, had signed safeguard agreements with the IAEA according to their respective requirements. India would negotiate a safeguards agreement on these lines, Dr Singh said.
Allaying apprehensions of various members over India's acceptance of perpetual safeguards for its civilian facilities, the prime minister said it should be viewed in the context of the proposed perpetual nuclear fuel supply by the suppliers group.
The deal was aimed at using one of the options for ensuring India's energy security, which was imperative for increasing economic growth from the present 7-8 per cent to close to 10 per cent. For achieving 10 per cent GDP growth every year, the energy requirements would go up by a corresponding proportion and this could not be met by conventional sources alone.
The rising oil prices in the international market and the low quality of coal available within the country had forced the government to look for alternatives and nuclear fuel was one of these, Dr Singh said.
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"Our scientists would be provided with state-of-the-art facilities to expand the nuclear programme," Dr Singh said.
In his spirited 40-minute reply, he said India would not forego its three-stage nuclear programme under the deal or allow it to come in the way of using its abundant thorium resources for generating power in future.
The United Progressive Alliance government's discussions with the US pertained only to those nuclear facilities, which were being offered for safeguards. The discussions did not cover the 'strategic programme which has been and will remain fully protected,' he asserted.
He said the scientific community had assured him that the two moves would not affect the strategic programme.
Dismissing the charge that only the US stood to gain from the deal as it wanted to sell nuclear fuel to India, Dr Singh agreed that the interests of the two countries did not converge on several issues, but it was not so in the case of the nuclear deal.
"US is a global power. Their interests always do not converge with ours, but there are occasions when our interests do converge and the deal was one such instance," Dr Singh said.
Pointing out that the deal was just one aspect of Indo-US relations, he said the agreement on agriculture, which was also signed during the March 1-3 visit of US President George W Bush, would provide better technologies to India and this would be of great help in ushering in a second green revolution in the country to raise the stagnant productivity.