RS adjourned after Oppn. protests over nuke deal

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New Delhi, Oct 21 (UNI) The Rajya Sabha was adjourned today after protests by several Opposition members, including the Left, over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The protests came as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee began to make a suo motu statement on the "landmark" Indo-US nuclear agreement, terming it "fully consistent with India's national interest".

Little could be heard in the din as the Left and BJP members rose to their feet drowning out Mr Mukherjee's statement.

The minister told the members that the nuclear agreements were "a vindication and recognition of India's impeccable non-proliferation credentials" and assured that in no way it constrained the country's ability to pursue an independent foreign policy or affect its strategic autonomy.

Stating that India-specific safeguards agreement as well as the country's nuclear cooperation with the US and France would "pose no hindrance to our strategic programme", Mr Mukherjee said, "nuclear energy offers us an economically and environmentally viable alternative." He said nuclear energy would help the country bridge the energy gap estimated to be 4,12,000 mw by 2050 and maintain an annual GDP growth rate of 9-10 per cent.

"With the opening up of international nuclear trade and commerce we will have new opportunities to expand our nuclear power capacity," he added.

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