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Indo-US Nuclear deal will not compromise Strategic Interests

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 2 (UNI) In a balancing act to protect its sovereignty, India has asserted that it will declare only 65 per cent of its nuclear facilities for international safeguards and has not included the fast-breeder reactors in the plan for separation of its civil and military nuclear facilites.

Official sources said the 'separation plan' is for the present facilities and India reserves the right to decide on future reactors. Only civilian facilities would be declared and there will not be any compromise with India's strategic interests, the sources added.

''The agreement has nothing to do with Strategic programmes,'' they said.

''Whatever we make in future, whether we classify it as civilian or military, is solely India's decision and not a matter of debate. This will remove any ambiguity,'' the sources said.

They said that since India is not a non-nuclear State but a de-facto nuclear State even though not on par with the P-5, there had to be some midway for it and that was why it would ask the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 'India-specific' safeguards.

''The last lap was very hard and a lot of effort had to be put in. But we did manage to agree on parameters...The US said it was very pleased and could now take it to the Congress and also convince the NSG.'' An exception had been made with regard to India, the sources said adding that what the Prime Minister had said in Parliament, formed the basis of the separation plan. India had made it clear that only civilian facilities would be declared.

The whole discussion focused on two issues--the separation plan and the safeguards aspect.

''We wanted to be crystal clear and ensure that there was no ambiguity in future. We have achieved that. To remove any ambiguity we said that whatever we build in future, how we classify it, will be our decision and it will not be open to debate,'' the sources said.

In case of safeguards, India said that for permanent safeguards, there would have to be permanent supply. To ensure that what happened to Tarapur, would not happen again and even if there was a remote possibility of that, India would have the right to take a decision and this too had been conceded.

''We have built in as many assurances as possible. Should this happen, we must have the right to take corrective steps.'' The sources said the government had managed to take on board all the concerned agencies including the National Security Council, the Department of Atomic Energy, the External Affairs Ministry and even the Territorial Division. ''In the final formulation, everybody was on board,'' the sources added.

Although there was still a long way to go for full finalisation of the agreement, considering the concerns of the US Congress and the NSG, it nevertheless ''unlocks the doors'' for India's development.

''Not only does it unlock the nuclear feed, but also satisfies the concerns of the very restrictive regimes which have been built up against developing countries, specifically India. If you want to unlock the supply for dual use technology, this is the key,'' the sources added.

They, however, said the challenges could not be minimised but an important step had been taken and the first phase had been completed.

The separation plan would now be given to the US Congress and also taken to the NSG. The two would be going on parallel lines.


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