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Vajpayee criticises Bush-PM joint statement

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
July 21, 2005 00:45 IST
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Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has criticised the joint statement issued at the end of Dr Manmohan Singh's one-to-one meeting with United States President George Bush.

Vajpayee said opening military and civilian nuclear installations for international inspection would have a long term implication on national security.

"The understanding arrived at between Dr Singh and President Bush regarding nuclear technology as reflected in the joint India-US statement of July 18, 2005, has already caused concern, even consternation among nuclear scientists and defence analysts. The Bhartiya Janata Party shares these concerns," he said in a written statement issued by the party.

He wondered how the government of India could surrender its right to determine what kind of nuclear deterrant it should have in order to protect the nation from an enemy country. Besides, India would incur huge costs on separating military and civilian nuclear installations.

"Though we believe in minimum credible deterrent, the size of the deterrent must be determined from time to time on the basis of our own threat perception. This is a judgement which cannot be surrendered to anyone else. By effecting a separation between civilian and military facilities, we have also accepted a crucial provision of a future fissile material cut-off treaty even before such an international treaty has been fully negotiated and put into force by other nuclear weapon states," he added.

He termed India's offer to sign additional protocol with the US government on the civilian nuclear facilities as one fraught with dangers.

"Indian nuclear scientists have been allowed all these years to freely carry out research activities without anyone breathing down their necks. Under the new arrangement, this will change and put restrictions even on our research programmes. Of special interest to us is the thorium research programme which would give us freedom from nuclear fuel imports and make us self-reliant in nuclear fuel. What happens to that programme? The government of India owes an explanation on this count," the former prime minister said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi