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'France, Russia will ensure uninterrupted N-fuel supply'

Achinta Borah in New Delhi | September 17, 2008 13:16 IST

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A top nuclear scientist on Tuesday said France [Images] and Russia [Images] will ensure uninterrupted fuel supply to Indian reactors in the event of America snapping nuclear cooperation.

Former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission M R Srinivasan said the Nuclear Suppliers Group member countries have their own laws and could go by their rules and regulations.

"France and Russia have their own rules. They do not require any such stoppage of supply in that contingency," he told PTI when asked what will be the future of nuclear cooperation with India if it conducts a test.

Srinivasan said American laws allow that country's president to ask India to return all supplied fuel and equipment if New Delhi [Images] conducts a test.

"Therefore, there is a distinction between America and others, specially France and Russia," he said.

His remarks come in the midst of controversy over US President George W Bush's [Images] contention that the fuel supply assurances are "not legally binding" for America.

Srinivasan, currently a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, said, legally speaking Indian can conduct a nuclear test and in that eventuality "the US can react".

"But in the case of France and Russia, there is a different situation. They are not automatically stopping," he said.

Srinivasan, also a former secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy, felt a big issue was needlessly being made out when the government is fully abiding by its pledge to observe unilateral moratorium on test.

"Former prime minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee announced a voluntary moratorium in 1998 itself and this government is continuing with it. So, now to make it as a big issue that the world should not react if we have a test is also not appropriate when we have given an assurance to the world that we would not have a test. Because we have already declared a moratorium," he said.

However, Srinivasan said, situation of that particular period of time (if a test is conducted) and the actions of India's neighbours like Pakistan and China would also come into consideration before the US takes any action against India.

"Even in the Indo-US agreement, words have been put in as to what is the security environment of that time and the action of the other states. Clearly, if Pakistan or China wants to test and India wants to test thereafter, it is unlikely that any action will be taken by anybody.

Because, it would not be an act that you have started. The others have started and we take action to counter that. That is a different situation," he said.

Highlighting the fact that India conducted its second nuclear test in 1998 only after 24 years of its first test in 1974, Srinivasan said India is not such a country which wants to conduct a test for the sake of testing.

"Our scientists have told us in 1998 that the information they have gathered in the test of that time and the computer modelling and all that is enough for them to test a whole range of weapons. So that is the position," he said.

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