India has right to test, asserts Pranab (Lead)

October 3rd, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) Ahead of a likely sealing of the 123 civilian nuclear pact with the US, India Friday underlined it has the right to test while others have a right to react to such an incident.”…India has the right to test, others have the right to react,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told CNN-IBN news channel when asked to comment on India’s options to conduct an atomic test after signing the India-US nuclear deal.

However, Mukherjee stressed that India’s voluntary moratorium on future nuclear tests after the 1998 atomic tests at Pokhran in Rajasthan can’t be converted into a treaty-bound obligation.

“In regard to testing, I have already stated we have voluntarily declared moratorium on the further tests and we will continue to bind ourselves by this book,” he said.

“We would not like to convert this voluntary moratorium into a treaty-bound obligation. That position has been maintained,” Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee’s re-assertion of New Delhi’s right to test comes a day before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice comes here Saturday.

Ahead of the Senate’s overwhelming endorsement of the nuclear deal, Rice had said India will face grave consequences in case it conducted a nuclear test. The remarks had created a controversy here even as Indian officials said that they don’t comment on internal political processes of another country.

Rice and Mukherjee are likely to formally ink the 123 bilateral agreement at Hyderabad House Saturday afternoon - a historic moment that will mark the restoration of civilian nuclear commerce between India and the US after a gap of 34 years.

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