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'India should retain the right to conduct nuclear tests'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 6: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today expressed his serious reservations on the India-US nuclear deal and said New Delhi must retain the right to conduct nuclear tests,''if any other country such as China or Pakistan, were to do so''.

In a statement, Mr Vajpayee warned that the nation would have to pay a heavy price in future by closing its options on the size of its credible minimum nuclear deterrent

''Our nuclear armed neighbours shall face no such constraints, Mr Vajpayee said.

The government must at least insist that there should be an all-time waiver by the US President as in the case of China, he noted.

''India's nuclear capability has been built brick by brick over the last six decades by our brilliant and dedicated scientists and technologists. The nuclear programme is the result of a country-wide consensus since 1969 when India did not adhere to the NPT and more specially since the tests of 1974 and 1998. The nation shall pay a heavy price in future by closing its options on the size of its credible minimum nuclear deterrent,'' he said.

Mr Vajpayee said his fears had come true as the negotiations on the Indo-US nuclear deal had progressed.

''It was now clear that in every round of negotiations with the US, India had ended up giving more and more concessions. The latest is the draft of the Waiver-Authority Bill introduced in the US Congress,'' Mr Vajpayee added.

He said as per the proposed Bill in the US Congress, the waiver would be granted by the US President when India fulfilled the seven conditions laid down in the Bill.

This would mean that the course of action of the Centre would thus be determined not by laws passed by Parliament or by international covenants to which India is a party, but the law framed by the US congress, he noted.

Mr Vajpayee said this Waiver Authority Bill, when passed, would convert a voluntary moratorium on further tests by India into a legally binding commitment ''without any possibility of withdrawal under special circumstances, as provided for in the CTBT.'' Suggesting that India should never accept this position, Mr Vajpayee pointed out that if the US could amend the Atomic Energy Act for China, granting waiver in perpetuity, why it was made periodic in the case of India, where the US President would determine from time to time whether India complied with the conditions in the Act.

He said it was shocking that such waiver would stand terminated if the US President determined that India had detonated a nuclear explosive device after the enactment of this Bill, saying that the obligations under the Bill were more stronger than those under the CTBT.

The CTBT cannot come into force until 40 odd countries, including the US itself, and China and Pakistan, adhere to it, he said.


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