Opposition to n-deal unfortunate: Narayanan

March 26th, 2008 - 11:29 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) The Indian government Wednesday termed as “unfortunate” the opposition of the Left parties to the civilian nuclear deal with the US, saying it was driven by “other considerations” than those relating to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. “The opposition within the country is unfortunately driven by other considerations,” National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan said.

“The absence of a consensus is a major handicap. We need a resolution to this earlier rather than later,” he added.

Narayanan was delivering the 25th Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal memorial lecture on “Managing India’s National Security & Building a Consensus for the 21st Century” at the Air Force Auditorium here.

He prefaced his remarks by pointing out that the opposition to the deal outside India “stems from the non-proliferation lobby”, adding that the pact “has nothing to do with India’s military programme”.

“India seeks to enlarge its energy mix by stepping up nuclear power generation. For India, energy security is a major concern on the road of economic growth,” he added.

The Left parties that support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government from the outside are bitterly opposed to the nuclear deal and have threatened to pull the plug if it is operationalised.

Despite this, India has held talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a country-specific safeguards agreement after which it intends to seek a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has just concluded a two-day visit to the US, has reiterated India’s desire to implement the nuclear deal, but made it clear that the ruling coalition was not prepared to sacrifice the government for it.

“At this juncture I cannot indicate any time frame by which we can complete the process” of resolving problems with the government’s Left supporters who are opposed to the deal, he said in Washington while addressing a press conference at the end of the visit Tuesday, during which he met President George W. Bush.

The White House responded with a reassurance that there was still some time before one could say “now or never” on the deal.

“Well, we have a little bit of time before we have to say ‘now or never’”, press secretary Dana Perino declared Tuesday.

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