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India will not take part in global arms race : Pranab

Written by: Staff
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Kolkata, Mar 4 (UNI) Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today made it clear that India will not be a part of the international arms race despite being recorgnised by the US as a 'nuclear powered nation'.

''We are neither interested in any arms race nor want to grab any foreign land. The country will not compromise with anything to retain its sovereignty and integrity,'' Mr Mukherjee said.

Speaking to mediapersons on his arrival here after the signing of the historic nuke treaty between India and the US on March two in New Delhi, the defence minister reiterated that it was a well known fact that Indian nuclear reactors were meant only for peaceful purposes.

Describing the Indo-US nuclear agreement, signed by Prime minister Manmohan Singh and US President W George Bush as ''good for the country'' Mr Mukherjee hoped that in the long run it would ensure large benefits for the Indian scientific community at large.

As India's power requirement by the end of the 10th plan period would go up by another 100,000 MW, the demand and supply gap could not be bridged with the conventional methods through coal and gas, thereby making the nuclear power plants as an absolute necessity for the country, he said.

Further elaborating the rationale behind the nuke agreement, Mr Mukherjee said since the Pokran blast in 1974, no country was ready to supply India with plutonium, the necessary fuel for reactors, and the latest technology forcing the country to entirely depend on Russia.

But now with the signing of agreement with the US, the problem of getting the required amount of fuel had largely been solved and it would not be a problem any more as all the 45 nations known as the ''Nuclear Supply Group'' would start meeting the country's demand.

The pact has to be ratified by the US Congress after Mr Bush's return, Mr Mukherjee noted.

About the clause of time-to-time inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of 14 out of India's 22 nuclear reactors, the defence minister said, they would be allowed inspection only in non-military reactors and not in those for military purposes.

Though India was capable of converting the nuclear fuel both for civil and military purposes, '' we would use the newly acquired fuel only for producing electricity and not for military purposes'', he said.

On whether the nuke treat would in anyway affect India's relations with China, Mr Mukherjee replied in the negative and added that on the contrary it was improving at a fast pace.

''Even recently China had formally agreed that Sikkim was an integral part of India and we are opening the new trade route through Nathu-La and take every measure to defuse tension at our international borders. This is also a very positive sign in terms of bileteral relations with China', he said.

UNI AKM-ABA PC MA RK1955

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