Strategic ties with US no compromise of national interest: Pranab

December 21st, 2008 - 7:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 21 (IANS) Averring that the strategic relations with US have in no way compromised India’s foreign policy, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said the country had similar arrangements with 10 other nations.”We don’t have strategic relations with the US alone, but with 10 other countries (too). They include the UK, Russia, France, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. We also have strategic partnership with China,” Mukherjee said at a function here.

The minister said India forged strategic relations with those countries which, it thought, could help it in ensuring security of the region.

“Because of India’s size, population and potential, everybody wants India on its side. Our cardinal policy is we want to be on the good side of everybody, but not at the cost of national interest,” Mukherjee said at an interactive session on ‘The Nuclear Deal: Its implications and advantages for India’.

Denying the criticism that the civil nuclear deal would lead to the US monopolising nuclear fuel supply to India, he said: “Even before completing the deal with the US, we signed an agreement with France. Later on, we have inked a similar treaty with Russia.

“The deal has removed technological apartheid. After our nuclear tests in 1998, our scientists were not even allowed to attend international seminars to read papers. The technology denial regime, of which we were victims, has been abolished,” he said.

The India-specific Safeguards Agreement approved by the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Aug 1 in the run-up to the deal has given India “the passport” to purchase nuclear fuel.

“It is an enabling provision. Now, it’s an open competition. We will enter into a pact for buying nuclear fuel from where we get the maximum advantage,” he said at the programme organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In a reference to the critics of the nuclear deal with the US, the minister said: “Sometimes, in the height of emotion, we fail to judge the importance of an issue. At the same time, there are some who may have the vision to look at the larger horizon.”

On allegations that the US deal would compromise India’s nuclear defence capabilities, Mukherjee said even after the deal, India has retained the right to explore the nuclear bomb option.

“We have the right. Similarly, others have the right to take action. They will decide as per their thinking.”

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