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Nuclear deal with India unique : US

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 2 (UNI) The Indo-US nuclear agreement arrived at today removes a 30-year old basic irritant between the two countries and allows them to engage in high degree of civilian nuclear energy cooperation for the future.

United States' Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, who has been negotiating the civilian nuclear agreement, said at a press conference here today that the agreement has two main benefits -- it satisfies US concerns on India's non-proliferation issues and there would be opportunities for US companies to bring in the latest technology in the power industry to the nuclear establishment in India.

''The gain for non-proliferation is that we have never had a way to have an impact into India's nuclear programme, now we will have that...there are opportunities for American firms to bring the latest technology in the power industry to the nuclear establishment here in India...Since the esablishment of the Indian nuclear programme there has been no international oversight and now the majority of India's programme will be under the supervision of the international agency,'' he said.

He said the US expected ''broad-scale international support'' to the agreement and one thing that the US had not done was formally recognise India as a nuclear weapon state.

He said india had agreed to put a majority of their civil nuclear power reactors under safeguards, and that would be phased in between 2006 and 2014.

In future, all the civil thermal and breeder reactors would be put under safeguards.

He said India would also enter into permanent safeguard arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

''We have now achieved a degree of transparency and oversight and impact on the Indian nuclear programme that was not possible for three decades. So, from a non-proliferation standpoint, this is a major win for the United States, as well as for India.

He said the agreement would cover the majority of Indian civil nuclear industry, but India would continue with its strategic programme.

Asked if future reactors would be permanently placed under safeguards, he said ''Yes.'' ''One of the Indian commitments is that those future thermal power reactors, as well as breeder reactors that are classified as civilian, will be put under permanent IAEA safeguards.'' He conceded that India had never been a proliferator of nuclear technology.

''We would not have made this agreement had India been a different kind of country, first. Second, India has a very limited capacity now -- one prototype breeder reactor and one test reactor.

It seeks to build a much larger capacity and it's made a commitment that its future civilian breeder reactors will all come under safeguards.'' Asserting that this was a unique deal for India alone, he said US did not believe that this deal should be or would be replicated for other countries that are outside the nonproliferation mainstream.

''Despite our friendship for Pakistan, there have been proliferation problems of a quite serious nature over the last several years that would make this kind of deal impossible, and we've been very up-front and direct with the Pakistanis in saying that,'' he added.


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