Can India conduct Pokhran III tests?

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New Delhi, Nov 17: Maintaining its nuclear pressure on the UPA coalition, the BJP today said its concerns on the Indo-US nuclear deal was unaddressed and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had no answer if India could go ahead with its Pokhran III tests under compelling strategic reasons after signing the international treaty.

BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said that the BJP had posed this question to Prime Minister during his meeting with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and if if did what was the price it had to pay for such a test. The party is yet to get an answer, he said ahead of Parliament taking up the issue for debate in the Winter Session.

He said India spent around Rs 150,000 crore on its nuclear energy programme and it was unimportant if the energy produced would be economical or not but the issue the nation has to ponder is if India can forego its nuclear deterrant capability for the sake of fuel supply from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in the event of India conducting a future nuclear test. In that eventuality, the NSG countries are obliged to stop nuclear fuel and India is obliged to return the nuclear fuel and equipment under the 123 provision and the Hides Act.

''India has conducted Pokhran I under Indira Gandhi and Pokhran II under Atal Bihari Vajpayee braving all sanctions imposed by the world community. We asked PM if India can do it after signing the treaty. He has no answers, he remarked.

Asked what would be the stand of the BJP in Parliament when the issue comes up in for debate, he said the UPA was in power and it was for them to deal with its constituents. The BJP has expressed its concerns and opposition to the signing of the treaty. ''If the ruling alliance wants to slit the country's throat, who can prevent it?'' He asked.


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