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Nuke deal should not be cause of concern: India

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 04: India is of the view that the landmark nuclear deal it clinched with the United States on Thursday should not provide any cause for concern to its neighbours, especially Pakistan and China, as it was only aimed at meeting the country's growing energy needs.

"In fact, it should come as a matter of comfort to them in view of the fact that India had now made it clear that only 35 per cent of its nuclear capacity was dedicated for its strategic programme," highly placed sources said here today (Mar 04, 2006).

"The deal is not directed against any one, not against China or Pakistan. It does not provide any provocation for them. We have, in fact, restrained ourselves from doing what we could otherwise do, by limiting our nuclear weapons," they explained.

The sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had explained details of the deal to leaders of countries such as China, Russia and the United Kingdom in recent months. Last week, French President Jacques Chirac was in India and was supportive of the agreement.

According to the sources, India's decision to place 14 of its 22 nuclear reactors---65 per cent of its installed nuclear power capacity---under safeguards, as part of the deal, was based on a carefully calibrated calculation about its strategic requirements for a credible minimum deterrent.

The decision was worked out by the government in full consultation with the country's nuclear and defence establishments, the sources said. "The nuclear community took a hard look at the figures," they said.

The sources said the calculations also took into account India's "no first-use" policy. "It takes into account the quantum of fissile material required for our strategic programme," they said.

According to them, the government was clear in its mind right from the beginning that any deal struck with the US on this issue would have to be fully acceptable to India's scientific community, especially its nuclear establishment.

The sources also made it very clear that India had made no commitments other than those contained in the final agreement on the deal. "There are no unstated or implicit assurances given by India," they asserted. "It is a win-win agreement for India." The sources declared that decisions on the scope and direction of India's strategic nuclear programme would for all times remain solely with the country's leadership.

"We have protected the autonomy of our decision-making on India's strategic programme. There were fears that our strategic programme would be capped or crippled. We have prevented any such eventuality," they said.

"We have taken into account all precautions and considered all legitimate concerns expressed in various quarters," the sources said.

They said that the agreement did not bar India in any way from setting up more reactors in both the civil and military sectors, and the decision on which of them would be placed on the civilian list would be entirely India's.

India had also ensured that its test fast breeder reactor (FBR) and the prototype FBR would not be on the civilian list and therefore not subject to safeguards.

They said the scientific community in India had genuine concerns that putting the FBRs under safeguards would cripple their ability to carry out research in frontier areas. "This has been fully protected," they said.

According to them, India will decide whether any FBRs built in the future would go under safeguards or not. "It will be solely our decision," they stressed. "There will be no external interference in our strategic programme. We will remain the sovereign master of all such decisions".


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