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Home > News > Specials

The Rediff Special/ Aziz Haniffa in New Delhi

'Nuclear deal won't affect foreign policy'

August 10, 2007

A senior Indian government official has denied the charge that the signing of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States will affect New Delhi's foreign policy.

Speaking exclusively to in New Delhi, the official, in a significant and unusually terse statement, said: "If anybody in the US thinks that because we have an agreement or hold joint naval exercises, we will acknowledge their determination of whom we should deal with, then they are mistaken."

Although he did not want to be named for this report or go into details since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] will make a suo moto statement on the nuclear agreement in Parliament on Monday, he said no country can dictate India's foreign policy.

"I don't think India is going to allow another nation -- even the United States of America -- to dictate what should be its prescriptive rights in terms of its foreign policy."

Asked if the opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties is mere mere posturing, the official said, "No. I would like to think that there are some honest concerns. I am sure when the prime minister speaks in Parliament, many of these will be comprehended. He will say all what we understand about this agreement and that should satisfy the members of Parliament."

Denying the charge that the deal is part of a strategic alliance between India and the US, he said India decided to go for the nuclear deal in "enlightened self-interest."

In a recent interview, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns clearly asked India to remain on the US side on the issue of Iran.

External link: The Nicholas Burns interview

Burns had said: 'We hope very much that India will not conclude any long-term oil and gas agreements with Iran. The Indians, as you know, have voted with us at the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors against Iran on two occasions. And so I trust the Indians will maintain this policy of not in any way, shape, or form assisting the Iranian government in its nuclear plans, and in giving the right advice to the Iranian government that we would expect any democratic country to give.'

The official, while commenting on the US pressure about India's Iran policy, said, "India has had relations with Iran much before the United States came into existence. Ours is a very old relationship. Sometimes very good, sometime not so good. At the moment they are good, but certainly it could be warmer. We will do everything in our interest."

"I do not think it is on us to acknowledge or accept somebody else's right to determine our policy," the official said. "I don't think any agreement or any adjustment can be captive to that. This is the condition that the prime minister has been saying and will say everytime it is needed."

The Rediff Specials