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PMO's reply to Samajwadi Party

July 02, 2008 22:35 IST

Following is the text of the statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office in response to the Samajwadi Party's appeal to the prime minister to alley apprehensions  in Parliament or outside it about the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The National Security Adviser, Mr M K Narayanan, had a meeting with leaders of the Samajwadi Party, Shri Ram Gopal Yadav and Shri Amar Singh, earlier to-day, during which the latter had sought certain clarifications with regard to the civil nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the United States.

Among the main issues raised by Shri Amar Singh were:

(i) Whether by entering into this deal, the sovereignty of decision-making in regard to India's foreign policy would be compromised. It was clarified to Shri Amar Singh that the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement did not and would not affect the autonomy of decision-making in regard to foreign affairs in any manner. India had always followed an independent foreign policy. Under no circumstances, would this position undergo a change, the least of all in the context of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.  India has always regarded its strategic autonomy in these matters as sacrosanct.

Related to this was the question raised by Shri Amar Singh whether the nuclear deal would impinge on our relations with Iran. It was clarified that our relations with Iran were time-honoured and civilisational in nature and no outside influence or pressure could force India to deviate from this path. India and Iran have recently taken several initiatives, including one relating to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. The pipeline epitomizes the nature and importance of the relationship, something that was strongly re-inforced during the visit of President Ahmadinejad to Delhi in April. There have been other meetings between our Ministers and officials and their Iranian counterparts. The National Security Adviser has just returned after a very productive meeting with Iranian leadership, and also had a meeting with President Ahmedinejad, at which apart from economic issues like the IPI pipeline, certain other and related matters were discussed. India is not under any pressure, nor can it be pressurized to follow a course of action that is not dictated by
our enlightened self-interest.

(ii) Another important issue that was raised by the SP leaders was whether the nuclear deal would undermine our nuclear sovereignty, specially with regard to our strategic nuclear programme. It was clarified, and the Prime Minister has reiterated this on many previous occasions, that the deal would not in any way impinge on our strategic programme. This is an agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation. The purpose of the Agreement is to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation between Parties and concerns  nuclear reactors and all aspects of the associated nuclear fuel cycle. It caters for the development of a strategic reservoir of nuclear fuel to guard against disruption of supplies over the lifetime of India's reactors, and for advanced R&D in Nuclear Sciences.

The 123 Agreement with the United States contains a specific mention that the Agreement would not affect un-safeguarded nuclear activities, i.e. activities involving our strategic programme, which are not under safeguards. It also underscores that the Agreement would be implemented in a manner that does not hinder or otherwise interfere with any activities involving the use of nuclear material, information or technology and military nuclear facilities produced, acquired or developed by them independent of the Agreement for their own purposes.

(iii) A question was also raised about the Hyde Act passed by the US Congress and its impact on the 123 Agreement arrived at between India and the United States. A careful reading of the provisions of the 123 Agreement would make it clear that substantive rights and obligations under the Agreement are not affected by the national laws of the parties. It is the 123 Agreement and its provisions that indicate the obligations of both sides. The 123 Agreement clearly over-rides the Hyde Act and this position would be clear to anyone who goes through the provisions.

(iv) Other clarifications were sought on the right to re-process and the right to test and the provisions under which the United States would determine its cooperation with India.Great care was taken while finalizing the 123 Agreement to arrive at provisions, which are satisfactory from India's point of view. The Agreement, hence, specifically grants consent to re-process or otherwise alter in form or content nuclear material transferred pursuant to the Agreement. India has  agreed to establish a new national re-processing facility dedicated for re-processing nuclear material under IAEA Safeguards.

There is nothing in the Agreement which places an embargo on India's right to carry out a nuclear test if it thinks this is
necessary in India's supreme national interest. To meet the contingency (raised by the Hyde Act) that the United States might terminate its cooperation with India if it carried out a nuclear test, a very elaborate consultation process has been included in the 123 Agreement. The consultations would go into the relevant circumstances; take into account the specific requirements leading to a test; whether there had been a change in the security environment which required this; and/or whether this was a response to similar actions by other States which could impact on India's national security.  Furthermore, it is stated in the Agreement that the two parties recognized that exercising the right of return would have profound implications for their relations and that both parties should take into account the potential negative consequences of such termination of on-going contracts and projects.

(v) A reference was again made to the Agreement between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear facilities.  The salient features of the Draft Agreement (which are yet to be finalized), reflect the key understandings relating to fuel supply assurances, strategic fuel reserves and corrective measures.  Provisions have been included that make it clear that India is offering its civilian nuclear facilities voluntarily for safeguards and keeping in view these assurances.  

Most importantly, the  Agreement provides for the filing of a declaration, based on its sovereign decision, and only when India determines that all conditions conducive to the objectives of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and concomitant arrangements have been fulfilled. This ensures that India would retain the right till the very end before putting any of its reactors under safeguards.

(vi) A major principle underlined in the Agreement with the IAEA is that the IAEA shall implement safeguards in a manner that do not hinder or otherwise interfere with any activity involving the use by India of nuclear material or technology developed by India independent of this Agreement for its own purposes.

Statement Issued by the Media Advisor to the Prime Minister
Prime Minister's Office
New Delhi. 2nd July 2008.

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