Nuke deal strategic to India's development: Pranab

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Kolkata, Feb 3 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while raising fears of facing international sanctions, today said the Nuclear deal was strategic to India's future growth.

Addressing the members during the 176th Annual General Meeting of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce, Mr Mukherjee said, ''When computers were introduced, we faced opposition. Now the nuke deal is also being opposed. But we must remember that we are a part of this planet, we cannot live in isolation.

''This could result in sanctions. We could have problems in future,'' he said.

Asked what stage was the deal in, he said, ''We are in the process of discussion with the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) regarding India's specific safeguard arrangement. Then we will talk with the Nuclear Suppliers' Group(NSG) regarding the amendment of laws to facilitate supply of nuclear energy to India, keeping the country's interest in mind, according to the decisions taken by consensus.'' ''This would help us open up to countries like France and Russia also other than America,'' he said.

The NSG is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.

''Once the draft agreement is ready it will be brought back to the UPA-Left Coalition for its approval and suggestion. Thereafter we will sign it,'' he said.

''We have an unprecedented challenge in the form of ensuring our energy security. India has to depend, to a large extend, on import of hydrocarbons and other fossil fuels for meeting its energy needs.

Our energy needs will grow in keeping with our projected economic growth,'' he said.

''Oil prices averaging at US dollars 100 a barrel, are a drag on our resources that could have gone for more productive purposes. The only way out is by investing to build future assets in energy. My Ministry is aware of these challenges and we are making all attempts by focusing bilateral and multilateral engagements for cooperation with source countries,'' he added.

In this context, he said, ''The agreements on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with various countries will, in particular, help in increasing the share of civil nuclear power in our energy mix. As we focus on economic growth, Indian business and industry will also have to respond to the growing concerns about climate change and environmental protection.'' ''Though our per-capita emission of green house gases is well below the world average, the global imperative to adopt environmentally-sound policies is not lost on us. In aggregate terms, India, with 17 per cent of the world population, has only 4 per cent of global GHG emissions. We are also prepared to contribute on the basis of the well-recognised principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,'' he said.

''Nuclear energy will help us in a big way to go ahead with our planned programme of developed as envisaged in the 11th five Year plan,'' he said.

UNI BA LL SB HT1600

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