India must go ahead with n-deal: Brajesh Mishra

April 27th, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) In a strong endorsement of the nuclear deal with the US, former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra has said not signing it would be a “severe loss of face” for India. “I think we should go ahead with the deal,” Mishra told Karan Thapar in an interview in the CNN-IBN news channel’s Devil’s Advocate programme to be broadcast Sunday night.

“Obviously, dual-use technology will not be available to us if we don’t go through with this and, of course, it’s a setback. It will be a severe loss of face for the government of India and for India,” he said.

His comments on this crucial and controversial issue are extremely significant.

Mishra was not only the key advisor to the previous government of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), now the main opposition, but he is also regarded as close to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).

Asked whether the government should go ahead with the deal even if the BJP and the Left parties were opposed to it, Mishra said: “That’s a political question… my personal view is that given the harmful effects of not going ahead, perhaps, we should go ahead and do it.”

He also made it abundantly clear that renegotiating the deal - a suggestion that has come from the BJP as well as the Left parties - with the next government in the US after the elections, irrespective of whether it has a Democrat or a Republican president, would be very difficult with the possibility of new provisions and clauses being added to the text.

“It is now, it is now,” Mishra said when asked whether this was the best opportunity for India to get the “most favourable” deal.

Mishra said without mincing his words that losing the nuclear deal, aimed at reopening the doors of global nuclear commerce for the country after a gap of three decades, would mean India’s “three-stage programme will suffer a setback”.

While in power it was the BJP that had conducted the Pokhran II nuclear tests in May 1998 and also initiated the three-stage strategic programme. Mishra’s comments can spark off a debate within the BJP and force it to rethink its stance on the nuclear deal.

Mishra also allayed fears, raised particularly by some BJP leaders, that the nuclear deal would curtail India’s sovereign rights.

“After the talks I’ve had with various representatives of the government of India at a fairly high level and some scientists, I’m convinced that there is not going to be any major impact on the strategic programme through the deal… this deal doesn’t stop us from continuing our strategic programme,” he said.

Asked whether political parties were mistaken in rejecting the nuclear deal on the grounds that it could stop India from carrying out further nuclear tests and on the grounds that it could damage India’s nuclear deterrent, Mishra felt it would not.

“Well, so far as these two questions are concerned, in my view we are not restricted from carrying out tests and, more or less, the programme we had devised before we left the NDA government is ongoing.”

When asked, “So, in other words, your advice is that this is a deal we need, let’s go for it?” Mishra said: “I think we should go ahead with this deal. Yes.”

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