India can't shy away from inking nuclear deal: Kasturirangan

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Bangalore, Feb 18 (UNI) Renowned space scientist and National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Director K Kasturirangan today said ''India cannot shy away from signing the nuclear deal with America.'' In an interaction with the press here, he said the agreement was not a simple bilateral cooperation arrangement. If India had to deal with other countries in nuclear energy or fuel, it had to sign the deal, he added.

''This is not simple bilateral cooperation. It is going to finally involve some 42 countries across the world. If we want to do business in nuclear-related activities with countries on fuel or technology, I think all of them need to be a part of it. This cannot happen unless India signs the agreement,'' he said.

Dr Kasturirangan said signing of the nuclear deal was for India's good.

''We are also working as equal partners. There is no question of whether India is at lower level and the cooperation is only going to help us and not others.'' To a question, he said there may not be two opinions among the politicians on the deal.

''I dont think any political party is strongly against the deal.

All they want is to protect the interests of the country,'' he said.

''I have interacted with most of the leaders...whether it is BJP, CPI, CPM, Congress and so on. I think by and large, they would like to stand out in their own way,'' he added.

''These parties have their own approach to doing it. But that does not mean they are against having cooperation with any other country.'' ''And, they have also not questioned in a serious way since nuclear energy is important for country's development. The political parties are keen to see the country's interests are well protected.

It does not mean they are against the deal,'' he added.

Replying to a question, he said ''it is not about whether country can carry on nuclear energy programme even if does not sign the deal. The question is whether the country can remain outside other nations by not becoming party to the deal.'' Replying to a question on whether change of regime in US may affect the signing of the deal, Dr Kasturirangan said it may not since both Democrats and Republicans have been positive on it, he said adding ''however, it is too early to judge on that.'' UNI MSP GM SP RK1505

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