India’s nuclear pacts no threat to strategic programme: Pranab (Lead)

October 20th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) Allaying anxieties about India’s nuclear pacts with the US, France and the one it is to sign with Russia, the government Monday underlined that the agreements were “fully consistent” with national interests and posed no hindrance to the country’s strategic programme. Making a statement in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stressed that the nuclear pact has “interlocking provisions” which ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies and right to reprocess besides “corrective measures” in case of disruption of supply.

“All these agreements are fully consistent with India’s national interest, with the assurances that PM had given to parliament and that the government has made to the people of India,” Mukherjee said in a suo moto statement on the developments related to ‘India’s civil nuclear energy initiative.’

His statement came even as CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharya raised the issue of alleged breach of privilege by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.

“We will honour our commitments and implement these agreements in good faith and in accordance with the principles of international law and have no doubt that our partners will similarly discharge their commitments and obligations,” he said.

The minister stressed that the government has neither compromised on the country’s strategic programme not its indigenous three-stage atomic programme. “In achieving this result, the government has ensured that they only relate to cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and that our strategic programme and our indigenous research are not affected,” he said.

Alluding to bilateral agreements with the US and France and the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, Mukherjee said that these pacts include specific provisions which ensure that there will be no hindrance to our strategic programme.

“We retain the freedom to take action with regard to our strategic programme even as we engage in international cooperation in civil nuclear energy,” he said.

Describing India’s re-entry into the global nuclear fold after the NSG waiver and bilateral pacts as “a historic contribution to nation building effort,” the minister said that his government will never compromise on India’s independent foreign policy.

“Our foreign policy will be determined at all times by our own assessment of our national interest. This initiative in no way constrains our ability to pursue an independent foreign policy,” he said.

“It does not in any way affect our strategic autonomy. In fact, it does the opposite by increasing our foreign policy options,” he added.

Mukherjee also expressed hope that India would sign a cooperation agreement with Russia when President Dmitry Medvedev visits India in December later this year.

The issue figured in his discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday.

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 India-US nuclear deal before it was formalised.

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