India’s civil nuclear initiative a landmark achievement: Pranab

October 20th, 2008 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) India’s civil nuclear initiative that has seen the lifting of three decades of sanctions is “a landmark achievement” that would help the country “occupy its well deserved position in the comity of nations”, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament Monday.The initiative has seen the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granting an India-specific waiver to enable the resumption of nuclear commerce after a three-decade hiatus and the signing of cooperation agreements with the US and France.

In a five-page suo motu statement laid in the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said: “In conclusion, the civil nuclear initiative is landmark achievement”.

India will “have the right to reprocess the spent nuclear material that we obtain from our international partners”, the minister noted.

“We will also be setting up a new national reprocessing facility and taking other steps necessary to operationalise these agreements and realise the full potential of the civil nuclear initiative,” Mukherjee added.

He also announced that India would sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia when President Dmitry Medvedev visits New Delhi in December.

He said the civil nuclear initiative “not only allows us to meet out future energy requirements in a sustainable manner but is also one which acknowledges India’s growing role in global affairs”.

Mukherjee’s statement was seen as an attempt on the part of the government to blunt the Left parties’ move to corner the government on the India-US nuclear deal in parliament.

The Left parties have served notice of a privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for allegedly misleading the house by not keeping his promise to first discuss in parliament the contours of the bilateral deal before it was formalised.

“I am sure that you all will agree with me that it is time for us to look ahead and move forward with confidence to occupy our new and well deserved position in the comity of nations,” Mukherjee said in the statement.

“The initiative is an acknowledgement of India’s role as a responsible power in international affairs on global stage. It is for us to utilise this opportunity with confidence as we pursue our national interests.”

Referring to the India specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), Mukherjee said: “We will bring the agreement into force and offer facilities for safeguards in a phased manner in accordance with the provisions of the Safeguards Agreement and in keeping with our Separation Plan.

“We are now in the process of getting visas by engaging with our international partners to negotiate and finalise bilateral co-operation agreements.”

He stated that the civil nuclear initiative also “marked the end of the technology denial regimes, which have restricted India for over three decades.”

“As we move forward, it will help us to expand high technology trade with technologically advanced countries,” said Mukherjee.

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