PM defends nuke deal, BJP for renegotiation with US if elected

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New Delhi, Nov 28 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asserted in the Lok Sabha that the Indo-US Nuclear deal would not renege on the country's right to future nuclear tests, even as the BJP-led Opposition declared that it would "re-negotiate" the deal if given a mandate and would reject it if the party failed to get "adverse clauses" deleted.

The Left, which once threatened to withdraw support to the government on the nuke deal issue, raised the debate, but was mild in its attack on the government.

''In our wisdom, if any necessity arises, nothing in this agreement prohibits you from undertaking any nuclear tests. The agreement protects the sovereignty of the nation.'' Dr Singh said while intervening during the debate when Leader of Opposition L K Advani expressed apprehension that India would not be able to conduct another nuclear test.

He said it was the BJP which had imposed unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests after the Pokhran-II in 1998. ''We are following the same now.'' Sharply attacking the government for going ahead with the deal despite lack of consensus among political parties, Mr Advani asserted that if the BJP-led NDA was given a mandate, it would re-negotiate for the deletion of the adverse provisions in the deal and would reject the deal itself if such an attempt failed.

Amid thumping of desks from the Opposition benches, Mr Advani said the deal was ''unacceptable'' to the nation.

''There is no consensus on the deal. But still you are rushing into the deal. Think of ways of re-negotiating the deal,'' he said, adding that, ''We can move forward only on the basis of broad national consensus.'' Initiating the six-hour-long debate, which could not be taken up during the Monsoon Session of Parliament because of BJP's disruption of the house on several issues, senior Marxist leader Rupchand Pal denied the allegation that it was opposing the deal at the behest of Communist China.

He said the Left parties were against the agreement as it was put on a level which was detrimental to India's sovereignty and independent foreign policy. Moreover, the cost of power from nuclear sources would be higher than that of hydel projects, for which there was a potential of 60,000 MW in North Eastern states alone.

Mr Pal said the major concern of the Left was the impact of the Hyde Act, the US national law, on the 123 agreement. Another matter of worry was whether the agreement would guarantee uninterrupted fuel supply to Indian reactors.

Saying that the deal was in the interest of the United States, he said that it covered not only the civil nuclear cooperation but also several other areas like defence, agriculture, insurance, banking etc.

Though Congress ally DMK supported the government, there was criticism from the other ruling coalition partner RJD.

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UNI

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