India will not object to US-Pak civil nuke deal

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Washington, Oct 12 : India has indicated it would not object to the United States offering a civilian nuclear deal to Pakistan, although Washington has said that it cannot offer a similar agreement to Islamabad.

"We believe every country has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee when asked at a news conference about Pakistan's demand for an India-like nuclear deal with the US.

"We will like to encourage civil nuclear cooperation for peaceful use of nuclear energy," said Mukherjee after signing an implementation document with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The document known as the 123 Agreement will allow India access to nuclear reactors, fuel and technologies from the US after a gap of 34 years.

The US terminated nuclear cooperation with India after New Delhi conducted a nuclear test in the Pokhran desert of Rajasthan in 1974.

While the US Administration is presenting the nuclear deal with India as a major foreign policy breakthrough, it has refused to offer a similar agreement to Pakistan.

"It is unique to India, not a model for anything else," said US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher when asked at a briefing earlier this week if Washington could also sign a similar nuclear deal with Islamabad.

Pakistan believes that the deal would allow India to dedicate some of its existing reactors for producing weapons and thus create a strategic imbalance in South Asia.

Mukherjee, however, disagreed with the suggestion that any gain for India in this field is a loss for Pakistan.

"There is no reason, for any apprehension in Pakistan," he said. "We are determined to build good relations with Pakistan. In fact, we are doing so through the composite dialogue process. We are addressing all outstanding issues between our two countries."

President Asif Ali Zardari's recent statements about India never being a threat to Pakistan and Islamabad having no objection to the India-US nuclear deal were "really encouraging", Mukherjee said.

ANI

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