No deadline, but it’s time to wrap up nuclear deal: Saran

February 18th, 2008 - 8:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) India should wrap up its nuclear deal with the US as soon as possible, failing which the “political uncertainty” dogging it could only intensify and the “supportive international environment” may also change, a key government negotiator said here Monday. “While there is no calendar deadline to the passage of the deal, the level of political uncertainty will keep increasing as time passes by,” Shyam Saran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Special Envoy on the India-US civil nuclear deal, said at a talk at the India International Centre here.

“The sooner we wrap up the deal, the better it will be,” Saran said in response to a question on whether the Indian government shared the US’ perception that time was running out for the nuclear deal.

“There has been a supportive international environment for the nuclear deal for the last two to three years. A change in international environment will add to another level of uncertainty,” Saran said after delivering his lecture entitled “India and the Global Nuclear Domain.”

“The international environment may not be as propitious for India as it has been for the past few years,” he stressed while alluding to India’s growing global profile spurred by its burgeoning economy that has been steadily growing for the last 15 years.

Saran’s words seems to echo that of US ambassador David Mulford who said in a recent interview that if India did not operationalise the nuclear deal now, it may have to wait at least till 2010.

Concerned about the fate of the nuclear deal, the Manmohan Singh government is hoping to wrap up an India-specific safeguards pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later this month. But the government can go ahead with the next steps in operationalising the deal only after its Left allies approve the IAEA pact.

The Left parties have, however, indicated that they are in mood to dilute their opposition to the deal, which they fear will end up making India subservient to US strategic interests in the region.

In an exposition that was also aimed at the opponents of the nuclear deal, Saran sought to correct a “mistaken impression” that the objective of the deal was to become a partner of the US saying India’s thrust was to upgrade its relationship with the US as well as other major world powers.

“Our objective is to allow India a choice of multiple partners in the civil nuclear area. We are not only looking at the US as a partner, but also at other countries as partners,” Saran said.

Saran underlined the central role of the US in the process of India’s global civil nuclear integration, saying Washington continued to remain the principal source of cutting-edge technologies. “Russian and France are also our friends. However, no other country except the US has the same standing to open the NSG regime for India,” he underlined.

Batting vigorously for the July 18, 2005 civil nuclear deal between India and the US, Saran eloquently argued that the central objective of the deal was to “seek the dismantlement of multilateral technology denial regimes targeting India.”

The dismantling of such technology denial regimes that also includes a bar on dual use technologies will enable India to expand its production of nuclear energy without compromising either on its strategic deterrence or the indigenous three-stage civil nuclear programme, he stressed.

Assuaging anxieties of the critics of the deal, Saran said India was seeking a “clean exemption” from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) without any additional conditionalities. “India’s legal right to carry out a test should it consider necessary in national interest will not be compromised,” he said.

He, however, added that were India to conduct a test there will be consequences but New Delhi should be ready for it. On a realistic note, he added that it would be “politically na

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