PM bats for more nuclear energy, praises Bhabha

October 30th, 2008 - 10:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) With India’s atomic pacts with the US and France sealed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday vigorously batted for the deal, saying it will accelerate the development of nuclear energy in the country which has suffered from uranium crunch due to global isolation for over three decades. The prime minister also reiterated that the nuclear rapprochement with the world’s leading supplier nations will neither affect the integrity of the indigenous three-stage programme nor the strategic autonomy of the country.

“The speed with which we can develop nuclear power is constrained by the availability of uranium. The initiative to open civil nuclear trade with the international community is a step towards accelerating the development of nuclear energy in the country,” said Manmohan Singh.

“This initiative will have far-reaching effects on the growth of nuclear energy in India and I can say that it is a period of transition in our programme,” he said.

He was speaking at a function at his residence on the birth centenary of Homi Jahangir Bhabha, widely considered as the father of India’s atomic energy programme.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar and nuclear scientists were among those present at the function.

“The civil nuclear initiative is a good deal. It will open up new avenues of cooperation,” he stressed with an eye to forthcoming elections in which the nuclear deal is likely to be an important issue.

“The integrity of our three-stage nuclear programme will not be affected. The autonomy of our research and development activity, including the development of our fast-breeder reactors and the thorium programme, in the nuclear field will remain unaffected,” he assured.

“There will be no interference in or scrutiny of our strategic programme,” the prime minister emphasized.

“We are now working towards formalizing international cooperation with willing partners in the international community including the US, Russia, France, the UK, Canada, Kazakhstan and others,” he said.

Recalling the pioneering efforts by Bhabha in setting up India’s indigenous programme that goes back to pre-independence days, Manmohan Singh underlined that India has “come a long way” due to “the strong foundations laid by Dr. Bhabha during his lifetime”.

Alluding to India’s expertise in developing Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), the prime minister said the Nuclear Power Corporation of India should develop the market for these reactors both in India and abroad.

“I understand there is interest among a number of friendly countries in this regard. Our scientists and engineers have shown that they can compete with the very best in the world,” he said. Some countries in Southeast Asia like Indonesia and Vietnam are interested in tapping the Indian expertise in these reactors.

The prime minister also underlined that “it will be necessary for foreign energy firms to manufacture nuclear equipment in India.

“This will boost our manufacturing industry. Our industry has the capability to emerge as an important player in the global market for nuclear equipment,” he said.

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