BJP urges UPA to renegotiate Nuclear deal

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New Delhi, Nov 7: The BJP today said it was not in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal as it compromised the long-term ''strategic programmes'' of the country and urged the UPA government to renegotiate it.

BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad in a statement, released after a one-and-a-half hours meeting of top BJP leaders, said the party stood for a close Indo-US cooperation and strategic partnership as between two equal sovereigns. But, the party had the feeling, the UPA ''has committed a strategic blunder by terming the deal as an icon of India's relations with the US.'' The statement came on the heels of a series of meetings held by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and US Ambassador David C Mulford with senior BJP leaders.

National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar had also held the meeting with the BJP leaders and briefed them about the strategic and scientific aspects of the deal.

Mr Prasad said it was a ''matter of record'' that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had opposed the nuclear tests in 1998 and now they were seeking to ''compromise the country's security''.

The BJP, though very friendly with the US, did not agree to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty because it was ''genuinely discriminatory and no democratic country can accept such a treaty''.

Senior leaders who attended the meeting included BJP President Rajnath Singh, former External Affairs Ministers Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha, former BJP Presidents Dr Murli Manohar Joshi and M Venkaiah Naidu. Others in the meeting were Mr Arun Shourie, Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr S S Ahluwalia.

Party sources said the BJP had the feeling that the UPA had compromised the ''nuclear doctrine'' evolved by successive governments in the country particularly by Ms Indira Gandhi in 1974 and Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998.

''The country had declared that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons and that also against a non-nuclear power. ''All this has only exalted India to the status of a mature nuclear power but once you declare that there will be no further nuclear tests in a bilateral agreement, all billions dollars investments into the nuclear deal will go waste,'' the sources said.

They said the UPA government had also compromised on the issue of maintaining minimum credible nuclear deterrence by agreeing to cap all future nuclear tests at a time when India and its neighbourhood was in a turmoil from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma and China.

The sources said there were reports citing that some regions in Pakistan were not in the control of government but in the hands of ''fundamentalist forces'' and India could not be oblivious to the prospects of nuclear weapons being fallen in their hands.

The UPA was making the deal appear ''energy-centric'' whereas the US had no such inhibitations and it was focussing it on strategic partnership and non-proliferation.

The increase of power generated by the new nuclear power facilities was just marginal and for this the country has to pay a big price -- capping all further nuclear tests, the sources added.


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