India’s energy security at “risk” if no nuclear deal: Sweden

April 20th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) India was “at risk” of endangering its energy security if it did not grab the opportunity offered by the civil nuclear cooperation deal with the US, visiting Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said Sunday. Answering a query on whether India’s hesitation to go ahead with the India-US civil nuclear deal would affect its energy security in the future, Bildt said: “There is a risk of that”.

The Swedish minister is in India on a two-day visit to deliver the keynote address at the first International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) - Citi India Global Forum here.

Sweden has taken a more nuanced approach to the nuclear deal, stating that its position in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group would depend on the safeguards agreement that India signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

While reserving comment on the domestic compulsions in India which have kept the deal in a limbo, Bildt said: “Even if all that is sorted out, we have some non-proliferation concerns for which we want to take a look at the IAEA document”.

The 45-member NSG has to give assent by consensus to change its guidelines to allow nuclear commerce with India, which is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, the member nations have made it clear that it will only deliberate on that proposal after India submits its safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

But, the Indian government cannot go ahead with initialling the draft document, as its Left allies are resolute in their opposition to the nuclear deal.

Sweden has a major domestic nuclear power industry, with over 20 percent of its electricity consumption met by nuclear power plants.

Bildt was expansive about India’s excellent non-proliferation record. “Even though India is outside the NPT, it behaves as part of the non-proliferation regime,” he said, adding that Sweden would like India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Bildt could not meet his Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who was out on a foreign tour, but he had a luncheon meeting with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan.

Narayanan had discussed the Swedish stance on civil nuclear energy cooperation during his three-day stay in Stockholm earlier this week. He had sought to assure Bildt that a strategic partnership between India and Sweden would enhance the peaceful use of nuclear power.

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