Apprehensions among Indian scientists that the country might not get access to dual-use technologies after the signing of the civil nuclear deal with the US are unfounded, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar said on Sunday.
Scientists in various institutions, including the Department of Atomic Energy, have pointed out that they have been working under a technology denial regime for the past 33 years and were concerned over the continuing non-availability of dual-use technologies as there is no timeframe mentioned in the draft 123 Agreement for obtaining such know-how.
Allaying these fears, Kakodkar -- who was closely involved in the negotiations on the draft 123 agreement -- told PTI that as far as imported reactors are concerned, there is no hurdle for getting dual-use technologies as they will be automatically under international safeguards.
The scientists were also critical of the fact that the agreement did not provide any time-line for amendments to the US Atomic Energy Act to remove hurdles for the supply of dual-use technologies to India.
Kakodkar said the pact provided for amendments to the US law to allow fuel supply, reprocessing and enrichment for the civil nuclear programme, but research institutions would be allowed to get such technology only on a case-by-case basis to ensure the know-how is not used in India's strategic programmes.
But the scientists said that a case-by-case grant of permission for dual-use technologies for research institutions already existed and hence there is nothing new in the draft agreement.
Getting permission on a case-by-case is time consuming and there were expectations that the pact would provide for easier access to dual-use technologies, which unfortunately has not been done in the agreement, the scientists said.
Only a small fraction of scientists work on reactors while almost all civilian scientists are affected in some way or the other by the denial of dual-use technologies, including those in fundamental research institutions, medical research, universities and institutions outside the DAE, they pointed out.
Kakodkar, however, sought to play down these apprehensions, saying that there was a "positive sentiment" and that once the amendments were made to the US law, there should not be any problem in accessing dual-use technologies.
He also made it clear that there is no problem for all safeguarded nuclear facilities, and dual-use equipment for civilian facilities would not create hurdles. He reiterated that the amendments were required only for reprocessing, enrichment and heavy water technology.
"It is a question of trust and the situation will improve," he remarked.
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