Indo-US nuke agreement not the best, but can be persued

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Bangalore, Jan 19 (UNI) 'The 123 agreement for nuclear cooperation between India and the United States was not in the best interests of the country but it should be persued,' former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman M R Srinivasan said today.

Delivering a lecture on the Indo-US Nuclear deal at the IAS Officers Association of Karnataka here, he said ''we need to have a scenario (to meet) for the future (needs). This agreement may not be the best for India, but for US as well it is not a good agreement. We need to persue it in the interest of the country's energy needs till we develop the future technologies.'' The other reason India should persue the deal was to stay in the circle of the 'lead actors' like the US, Russia, France and other countries. ''This will help us to call the shots in the world.

You can do it if you are part of the nuclear group. If India remain outside it will be isolated. This point is unfortunately not understood by the Left parties and the BJP,'' he said.

He said until the country mastered an alternate way or producing nuclear energy like building reactors that process thorium, which was abundantly available, it will have to depend on the present day technologies like light water reactors. For this it had to depend on foreign countries, at least for the time being, he added.

He said the Left parties and the BJP, who were opposing the agreement did not really understand the importance of the agreement.

The nine issues raised by the Left were reasonably met in the agreement. However, it was right in saying that India is considered a junior partner in the agreement. On the other hand, BJP's claim that the country's strategic nuclear progress would be curtailed was unfounded, he added.

''It is an unfair assessment. The agreement provides for non hindrance in the strategic issues. Actually the agreement does not utter a word on nuclear tests and says that both parties would observe their national laws in this regard. The catch is, under the US law the deal will be off if the agreement partner conducts a nuclear test. However, the termination clause has a notice periods,'' he said.

India had also insulated itself well making it clear that it would have multi source system to meet its nuclear energy needs.

It had reserved its right to obtain nuclear fuel from other nations, he said.

Mr Srinivasan said India had put a self moratorium on nuclear test after the 1998 Pokhran-II exercise. The UPA government said it would honour the decision made by Mr Vajpayee who headed the earlier NDA government. ''Our worry is what if Pakistan or China holds nuclear tests again,'' he questioned.

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