N-deal will end 30 years of India’s isolation: Pranab (Lead)

July 21st, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The India-US civil nuclear deal would bring an end to the nuclear apartheid and isolation that India had been subjected to for 30 years, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Monday. “It will open the door and end 30 years isolation of nuclear technology,” Mukherjee said while participating in a debate in the Lok Sabha, defending the nuclear deal as well as the trust vote that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government sought from the house. The voting on the trust vote will take place Tuesday.

Building his case for the nuclear deal, the minister said: “Some will even use the word apartheid and not only isolation. But the deal will open the door to nuclear technology.”

Mukherjee argued that the government had to get the safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved as well as get the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) to change its existing guidelines to allow commerce on civil nuclear energy between its 45-members and India.

“Unless you go to NSG, even our friends in Russia or France cannot have any cooperation with us on civil nuclear energy,” he said.

He described the IAEA and the NSG as the “passport and visa into the nuclear club” which would help India to travel on the road of civil nuclear energy. According to Mukherjee, once India had both these it would in a position to choose “where it wanted to travel”.

He denied that the Hyde Act was applicable to India and said it would not affect it adversely even if the government were to sign and operationalise the 123 agreement with the US for cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy.

Dismissing the opposition’s charge that the government had used stealth while negotiating the nuclear deal, Mukherjee went into great detail on the number of times debates and discussions were held in parliament on the issue.

“I don’t remember any foreign policy issue that has ever been so intensely or exhaustively debated in parliament as the civil nuclear deal,” Mukherjee said.

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