Nothing new in US letter; India has right to nuke tests: Sibal

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 5 (UNI) Lashing out at the CPI(M) and the BJP for carrying out a misinformation campaign against the nuke pact, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal today said the country would not compromise on its right to conduct nuclear tests.

Inaugurating a seminar organised by the Kerala Pradesh Congress committee on the Indo-US nuke pact, he said there was nothing new in the ''leaked letter'' of the US State Department on the 123 Agreement.

Noting that the document was not a secret, he said the 123 agreement did not take away the country's right to conduct nuclear tests. ''It does not talk of nuclear tests. But India has more advantages with the agreement. According to the agreement, in the event of any change of environment if India were to conduct tests, then both the countries can engage in negotiations and there will be one-year notice period before the US acts.'' Mr Sibal reiterated that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said India was not going to diminish the sovereign right to nuclear tests.

On the sensitive nuclear technology transfer, Mr Sibal said every country had the right to decide whether to transfer nuclear technology or not. ''While the US has an embargo on it, other may not have it. It is for the countries to decide and it is in no way connected with the agreement.'' Alleging that the CPI(M) had not understood the 123 Agreement, he said that it had no sense of the future of the country.

''They are not able to look beyond their nose,'' he added.

Most of the countries in the world were now turning towards nuclear energy, he said and added that it was only the CPI(M) that did not want India to be part of it. '' China is planning 84 nuclear plants. For China it is good and for India it is expensive. This is what the CPI(M) thinks,'' he said.

Lashing out at the BJP, he said the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had stated that there was no need for any other nuclear test. ''He had even told in the UN that the country was ready to sign the CTBT. What happened that the BJP now wants to conduct the nuclear tests?'' he said.

The BJP and the CPI(M) were only trying to play politics into the whole issue.

Stating that the pact was not about India and the US, he said it was about India becoming one of the greatest powers. ''For the last 30 years, India has been denied nuclear technology. It has been isolated from 1978 and we have no access to the nuclear technology.

The scene is going to change,'' he said.

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