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N-deal no compromise: Saran

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
Last updated on: July 19, 2005 08:30 IST
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India has not comprised its sovereignty to get civilian nuclear technology from the United States, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said today.

Taking exception to doubts whether India may have perhaps paid too high a price for access to a full range of technologies to develop its civilian nuclear energy sector, Saran asked, "If you [go by] the principle that [we] will do nothing more and nothing less than any other nuclear weapons state, what are we giving away?"

He said that, with this deal, India was not taking on any obligation. This is in keeping with India's stand that it would "not be discriminated against in terms of our principles that there should be equality amongst partners." He said India was undertaking responsibilities that were no more than any other nuclear weapons state, or those who were substantially developed in nuclear technology.

Saran, a member of the Indian delegation accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also negotiated the joint statement with the United States, the highlight of which was President Bush's commitment to work with New Delhi on civilian nuclear issues, thanks to India's impeccable track record on nonproliferation. Saran said there was no cause for any misapprehension that India has given away more than it got.

Saran emphasized this issue is "very important for everybody to understand because there may be sometimes a perception that somehow we have taken on responsibilities or... obligations which are going to be onerous. Not at all."

He reiterated his point: "We will not accept any kind of conditionality that other [countries] are not willing to accept."

Saran acknowledged this India was not averse to a few conditions. "But we will not be discriminated against and this comes out loud and clear," he said, adding, "We are doing exactly what the United States of America and other countries are doing. Nothing more."

Claiming that India has struck a great deal, Saran pointed out it would help India get "the whole range of civilian nuclear energy cooperation open to us, including what many people have been talking about – fuel for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station near Mumbai.

"Fuel for Tarapur is there in black and white," he repeated, pointing out that the agreement said the nuclear fuel being provided would not be limited to use at Tarapur -- it says not limited for fuel for just the Tarapur power station.

Seen dispassionately, he claimed, this was clearly a "major breakthrough for India."

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC