Advani favours re-negotiation of Indo-US nuclear deal

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New Delhi, Jun 23 (UNI) BJP Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani today favoured re-negotiation of the Indo-US nuclear deal to insulate India from the ''ill-effects of the Hyde Act'' so that the country did not foreclose its nuclear options for the sake of nuclear fuel from the US and other Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Talking to newspersons here, the former Deputy Prime Minister said although the BJP supported a strategic relationship between India and the US, the two biggest democracies of the world, the country could not foreclose its options of conducting future nuclear tests as prescribed by the ''India specific Hyde Act''.

India, he said, should not be bound by provisions that went against national interests. ''Given an opportunity, a future BJP government will re-negotiate the nuclear deal,'' the Leader of the Opposition said.

Mr Advani said the BJP and its predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh had always been a votary of India becoming a Nuclear Weapons State.

When former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi conducted Pokhran I in 1974, the BJP openly supported the move but that was not the case when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA conducted Pokhran II tests in 1998, he said. Several Congress leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had criticised the tests, he added.

He said the Left parties' opposition to the nuclear deal was because they did not want India to have any truck with the US but that was not the case with the BJP.

The BJP wanted the deal but not at the cost of India foreclosing its option of conducting future tests, he reiterated.

Mr Advani also reminded that the previous NDA government had initiated discussions for ''scientific cooperation'' with the US and not for energy purposes. India can not close its strategic option, he said. ''We will re-negotiate given an opportunity.'' UNI MCN RR HS1943

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