'India will not take part in global arms race'
Kolkata, Mar 04: Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today (Mar 04, 2006) made it clear that India will not be a part of the international arms race despite being recorgnised by the USA as a nuclear powered nation.
"We are neither interested in any arms race nor want to grab any foreign land", Mr Mukherjee said here adding "the country will not compromise with anything to retain its soverignty and integrity".
Speaking to mediapersons on his arrival here after the signing of the historic Nuke treaty between India and the USA on March two in New Delhi, the Defence minister reiterated that it was a well known fact that Indian nuclear reactors were meant for peaceful purposes only.
Describing the Indo-US nuclear agreement, signed by Prime minister Manmohan Singh and US President 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.
He said since 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.
Further elaborating the rationale behind the nuke agreement, Mr Mukherjee said since the Pokran blast in 1974, no country was ready to supply India plutoneum, 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 USA, the problem of getting the required amount of fuel had largely been solved and it would not be a problem any more with all the 45 nations known as the "Nuclear Supply Group" would start meeting the country's demand.
Though the issue was to be confirmed by the US Congress after Mr Bush's return, Mr Mukherjee pointed out.
About the clause of time to time inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of 14 of India's 22 nuclear reactors, the Defence minister said, they would be allowed inspection in only 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', the Defence minister said.
On whether the nuke treat would in anyway affect India's relations with China, Mr Mukherjee replied in the negative and said 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 emphasised.