THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (SHRI JASWANT SINGH): Sir, now, it has been to me, personally, one of the most interesting, one of the most informed debate that we have had in a very long time. And, I have greatly benefited from it. I wish to add no points to the discussion that has already taken place. I am aware of the sense of the House. I wish to add, Sir, in just a few sentences, an appeal to the hon. Prime Minister. The substance of the appeal from all sections of this House and all political parties, whether it is the Left or the Samajwadi Party or the TDP, or the AIADMK, the BJP, is, let there be a sense of the House. You can call it by whatever term you like. You can call it the sense of the House. You can call it the will of the House. You can call it a statement from the Chair or whatever it be. If there be a distillate of the House's views, it can only strengthen the Government's position. I appeal, therefore, to the Government and to the hon. Prime Minister, even at this stage, to consider this as an appeal to the Treasury Benches and to the Government. Please accede to this request. It can only strengthen the hands of whoever is to talk, to whomsoever in the world, including the Prime Minister. Thank you. (Ends)
THE PRIME MINISTER (DR. MANMOHAN SINGH): Mr. Chairman, Sir, as I stand before this august House, I would like to share with you and the hon. Members the vision that inspires us and that vision is bequeathed to us by no less than a person than Jawaharlal Nehru, when, on the eve of our Independence he said, "Our task will not be complete so long as we cannot get rid of chronic mass poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions and millions of our country men and country women." In the last sixty years, a great deal has been done to soften the harsh edges of extreme poverty. But, who can deny that we have to do a lot more to reach our cherished goal. Sir, Panditji said in 1947 that it has been the dream of the greatest man of our age, referring to Mahatma Gandhi, to wipe out every tear from every eye and he then said that may be a tall order for us. But, that is the inspiration which has to inspire Governments in a country as poor, as under-developed as we are.
Sir, it is my solid conviction that mass poverty can be removed only if we have a fast expanding economy. Even though, I recognise that a fast expanding economy is by itself not a sufficient condition of getting rid of poverty. We need institutional mechanisms to focus, particularly on the needs of the under privileged sections of our society. If India has to grow at the rate of 8 per cent to 10 per cent and, maybe, more, India needs rising amounts of energy. A question has been asked, 'Have I calculated what type of mix this country needs and have I worked out the costs of that?' Mr. Chairman, I had some experience of that. Soon after the Pokhran Tests in 1974, I became the Member for finance of the Atomic Energy Commission and, along with colleagues like Dr. Ramanna, Dr.Sethana, Dr. Iyengar, we worked out the role of nuclear energy in meeting the deficit of our energy requirements.
(CONTD. BY USY "5B")
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): In this context, we must never forget the primary motivation for India's nuclear programme was the production of energy, defence came much later. And, where are we? After six years, our total production of nuclear power is no more than 3,000 MW. People say that we can use coal. We have plenty of coal. Often low-grade coal has high ash content. If you use increased quantities of coal you run into environmental hazards, like, the CO2 and other gas emissions. As for hydrocarbons, you know there is a great insecurity of supplies. We know that the price of hydrocarbons, oil and gas, can go, in a very short period, to hundred dollars a barrel. Therefore, in this environment, prudence demands that we must widen our energy options. I am not saying that nuclear energy will provide the final answer. All I am saying is, as I understood, all development is about widening human choices. And, when it comes to energy security, widening our choices means that we should be able to make effective use of nuclear power. If the need arises, if the economic calculus demands that this is the most cost-effective means -- it is my belief that the nuclear order that prevailed in the world for thirty odd years, which has imposed restrictions on nuclear trade with India -- if this nuclear order is not changed, India's development options, particularly its quest for energy security will face, to put it mildly, a great degree of uncertainty.
Mr. Arun Shourie asked me what calculations have I seen. I have seen many calculations in the Department of Atomic Energy. In the eighties when Shri K.C. Pant was the Chairman of the Energy Policy Committee, a detailed study was done and it was shown that if you were talking of generating power and reaching it to place 700 kms away from coal mine, the nuclear energy is right economic answer. Things can change. And, I think, the Planning Commission have done recent work, and they have also come to the conclusion that having the nuclear option is something which will give us greater degree of security on the energy front. That's the vision that inspires our quest for changing the nuclear order. We have, of course, security concerns, international security concerns. In our neighbourhood, is something which worries us and, therefore, it is quite clear that while we are committed to our civilizational heritage of working untiringly for universal disarmament, we have to recognise that we are living in a world, where this is not going to happen today, tomorrow, or, day after tomorrow. In this uncertain world, the unpredictable world that we live in, we have legitimate security concerns. The nuclear weapon programme, its autonomy, its independence, dependent solely on our own assessment, must remain a cardinal principle of our nuclear policy.
Sir, I do recognize, if you are trying to move away from the status quo, you do run risks. Change is very disruptive. It upsets existing institutions; existing ways of thinking, and status quo has the satisfaction of being rooted in reality. If you are planning for a future and the future is inherently uncertain, you run the risk that you may go wrong. But we live in a world, where the change, the only constant change, is 'change' itself. (Contd. by 5c -- VP )
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): And, this country, therefore, has to be prepared to think big about its future and if that is the vision, that is the mission, then, I sincerely believe the path that we have identified is the right path. I am not saying that I know whether we will succeed or not. In fact, if I had been allowed to initiate this debate, I would have outlined the risks that we face and, maybe, at the end of it the whole House would have said that this is what things should be and this is what our approach should be. I was not given that opportunity even though I offered, in both the Houses, that I was willing to make a suo motu statement setting out our vision, goals, risks and uncertainties that we face and how we will tackle those risks and uncertainties. And, Sir, this is not the first time it has happened to me. My thoughts go back to the year 1991. Shri Yashwant Sinha handed me a bankrupt economy with foreign exchange reserves of no more than two weeks. I had to improvise within one week a programme to rescue this economy. Within one month I had to come with a Budget which required far-reaching changes in the way we were taught to think about our economic problems. On that occasion also, in 1992, when I rose to present my second Budget, all Opposition, the Right and Left, rose and said that I should be impeached because I have prepared this budget in consultation with Washington and that I was an Amercian. I have lived with that sort of things. And, therefore, it does not surprise me. Today all sorts of adjectives were used. I am strong or weak, history will determine that. But, I do wish to share with this House that I do recognise the risks that reform undertakings run into in all modern societies. And I was reading Machiavelli recently in 'The Princt'. I think I should like to quote that paragraph. And I quote: " It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order this lukewarmness arising partly from the fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favour; and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have the experience of it. Thus it arises that on every opportunity for attacking the reformer, his opponents do so with the zeal of partisans, the others only defend him half-heartedly, so that between them he runs a great danger." Therefore, I am aware of the risks that I do incur. Mr. T.T. Krishnamachari once told me that there are tigers on the prowl on the streets of Delhi. I am aware of the risks but for India's sake, I am willing to take those risks.
Mr. Chairman, you forgive me if I become a little sentimental on this occasion. I was born in a very poor family on the other side of Punjab. I was the first one in the family who went to High School. My father left his class in the eighth standard and became a freedom fighter in Nabha and Jaito morchas that were launched at that time.
(Continued by 5d)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): I may not have been in politics, but I have in my blood the feelings of a freedom fighter's family. I may be late comer into politics, but I have the privilege of belonging to a Party which fought for India's freedom, the Party which produced great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Rajiv Gandhi, etc. That is the heritage of which any Party must be proud. When I stand before this House, I cay say in all faithfulness that in these two years and three months that this nation has entrusted me with the job of the Prime Minister, I did not seek it; it came my way, but it has been my effort to do my very best to serve the vital interests of this nation. This commitment I made in 1991 when in my first Budget Speech I said, "No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come". I had then said, "We are merchants of India, as a major pole of the global economy is one such idea whose time has come." And, I said: "I will dedicate myself to that task." I was criticised by the Right, by the Left, names were used, epithets, 15 years down, who will today say that what I did then was wrong. This Nation stands tall, proud, fast-growing and if India had not launched, if we had not launched the programmes of reforms, I shudder to think, how India would have faced the Asian crisis of the mid 90's. So, Sir, I speak with some experience, even though, I may be novice in politics. I do not have the skills of Jaswant Singhji, Yashwant Sinha, or, Arun Shourieji, but I do wish to say to our countrymen that the service of India, as Jawahar Lal Nehru used to say, means a service of teeming millions who suffer day and night and that is the vision, that is the mission which inspires me and will guide me for whatever is left of my life. No power on earth can take away that privilege from me. I will discharge my duties to this country, to the last ounce of my blood. Sir, I now come to the subject matter of discussion today. At the outset, I would like to convey my gratitude to all the hon. Members who have participated in this debate. I am grateful for the opportunity to clarify some of the issues arising from the discussion. I am being truthful, I will do so in a non-partisan spirit and I have every reason to believe that when I have finished I will carry the entire House with me. Our Government has never shied away from a full discussion in Parliament on this very important issue. (Contd. by PB/5E)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD): On three previous occasions, on July 29, 2005, February 27, 2006 and March 7, 2006, I had made detailed statements and discussed this important subject in this august House. Once again, several issues have been raised during the current discussions, and I wish to take this opportunity to respond to them. I also intend to cover developments since my suo motu statement of March 7 this year to bring the story up to date.
Two types of comments have been made during the discussion in this House. The first set of issues pertains to the basic orientation of our foreign policy. Some hon. Members have alleged that by engaging in discussions with, and allegedly acquiescing in the demands made by the United States, we have compromised the independent nature of our foreign policy.
The second set of issues pertains to deviations from the July 18 Joint Statement and the March 2 Separation Plan. Many of the points raised by the hon. Members have also been aired outside Parliament, notably also by some senior members of the scientific establishment. Overall, a listing of the important concerns includes the following : that the India-US nuclear initiative and, more particularly, the content of the proposed legislation in the US Congress, could undermine the autonomy of our decision-making; limit the options or compromise the integrity of our strategic programme; and adversely affect the future of our scientific research and development. To sum up, the critics would suggest that India's strategic nuclear autonomy is being compromised, and India is allowing itself to be pressurised into accepting new and unacceptable conditions that are deviations from the commitments made by me to Parliament in July 2005, and in February and March this year.
Sir, I recognise that many of these concerns are borne out of genuine conviction. I have always believed in public life. It never pays to question the motives of those who differ with you, and, therefore, I respect those who differ with me, from what I have done or what I have to say. I recognise, therefore, that many of these concerns are borne out of genuine conviction that nothing should be done that would undermine long-standing policies that have a bearing on India's vital national security interests. Let me say, at the very beginning, I fully share and subscribe to these sentiments.
I would like to assure the hon. Members that negotiations with the United States regarding the civilian nuclear deal have not led to any change in the basic orientations of our policies, or affected our independent judgement of issues of national interests.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, last year when I was in the United States, at the National Press Club, in the full glare of the media of the United States, I was asked this question, 'Mr. Prime Minister, what do you think of United States' intervention in Iraq?' And, I said, in full public glare, 'that was a big mistake.' I said the same thing to President Bush. President Bush came here. We had a very long discussion about the shape of things to come and questions cropped up about the regime change, and I did make quite clear to President Bush that regime change is something which does not find favour with other way of things. (Contd. by 5f/SKC)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): I can assure you, Sir, that when it comes to India's essential national interest, the only guide for me and for my Government would be what is in our enlightened national interest. No power on earth can influence that sense of independence of our judgement in this regard.
Sir, the thrust of our foreign policy remains the promotion of our national interest. We are unswerving in our commitment to an independent foreign policy. We do recognize the complexities present in an increasingly inter-dependent and multi-polar world. I don't apologise for my conviction that having good relations with the United States is in our national interest. But, having said that, I do recognize that the United States is a pre-eminent power; good relations with the United States are in our national interest. But that is not, and should not, in any way, cloud our judgement in international affairs. There are many areas of agreement with the United States, but, at the same time, there are a number of areas in which we have differences; we differed with them on what has happened in Iraq and we have not shied away from making these concerns known to the United States, as also expressing them in public.
Currently, we are engaged not only with the United States, but also other global powers like Russia, China, the EU, the UK, France and Japan. We are also focussing on ASEAN as well as countries in West Asia, Africa and Latin America. More importantly, we are devoting proportionately larger time and effort in bridging relations with countries in our immediate neighbourhood like Nepal, Bhutan, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan. Our relations with all these countries are determined by the dictates of our national interest and we have not allowed any other country, including the United States, to influence our policy; and this will not change as long as I happen to be the Prime Minister.
Sir, I would hence, reiterate, in view of the apprehensions that have been expressed in this House, that the proposed US legislation on nuclear cooperation with India will not be allowed to become an instrument to compromise India's sovereignty. Our foreign policy is determined solely by our national interest. No legislation enacted in a foreign country, howsoever powerful that country may be, can take away from us that sovereign right. Thus, there is no question of India being bound by a law passed by a foreign legislature. Our sole guiding principle in regard to our foreign policy, whether it is on Iran, or any other country, will be dictated entirely by considerations of our national interest.
Sir, let me now turn to some of the concerns that have been expressed on the second set of issues regarding possible deviations from assurances given by me in this august House on the July 18th 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2nd 2006 Separation Plan. I would like to state categorically that there have neither been, nor will there be, any compromise on this score and the Government will not allow such compromises to occur in the future as well.
Sir, hon. Members would recall that during President Bush's visit to India in March this year, agreement was reached between India and the United States on a Separation Plan in implementation of the Indo-US Joint Statement of July 18th 2005. This Separation Plan had identified the nuclear facilities that India was willing to offer in a phased manner for IAEA safeguards contingent on reciprocal actions taken by the US.
(Contd. by 5g)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): For its part, the United States Administration was required to approach the US Congress for amending its laws and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group for adapting its guidelines to enable full Civilian Nuclear Cooperation between India and the international community. The US Administration had thereafter approached the US Congress to amend certain provisions of the United States Atomic Energy Act, 1954 which currently prohibit Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India. The US House of Representatives International Relations Committee passed the Bill on the subject on 27th June, 2006. The House of Representatives passed the Bill as approved by the International Relations Committee on July 27. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its version of the Bill on June 29, 2006. The US Senate is now expected to vote on this version of the Bill sometime in September. We have concerns over both the House and Senate versions of the Bills. Since the two Bills are somewhat different in content, according to US practice they will need to be reconciled to produce a single piece of legislation. After adoption by both the House and the Senate, this would become law when the US President accords his approval. The final shape of the legislation would, therefore, be apparent only when the House and the Senate complete the second stage of assent or adoption. Sir, meanwhile the US Government had approached the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to adapt its guidelines to enable full Civil Nuclear Cooperation between India and the international community. In March this year, the Nuclear Suppliers' Group at its preliminary meeting in Brazil held a preliminary discussion on this issue. The matter will be further discussed by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group later this year. On our part, we have separately raised this issue with several countries and urge them to lift the existing restrictions on nuclear supplies in India. I myself have raised this issue with the Heads of State or Government of Russia, France, UK, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Norway, Iceland and Cyprus among others. Sir, in view of the concerns voiced by the hon. Members, I shall try to discuss each of these concerns in some detail. I shall, however, begin by affirming that our approach is guided by the understandings contained in the July 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan. What we can agree with the United States to enable nuclear cooperation must be strictly within these parameters. Sir, the key provisions to which references have been made in this august House and outside are the following:
First, there is this question of full Civil Nuclear Cooperation. Hon. Members have asked what is my understanding of that. I would like to share what our approach is and what our understanding is by the meaning of full Civil Nuclear Cooperation. The central imperative in our discussion with the United States on Civil Nuclear Cooperation is to ensure the complete and irreversible removal of existing restrictions imposed on India through iniquitous restrictive trading regimes for the past three decades. We seek the removal of restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy that is ranging from the supply of nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors to reprocessing spent fuel, that is, all aspects of a complete nuclear fuel cycle. (Contd. by 5h/KSK)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD): It is our belief that this will be the surest guarantee of India's acceptance as a full and equal partner of the international nuclear community even while preserving the integrity of our three-stage nuclear programme and protecting the autonomy of our scientific research and development. The House has my assurance, nothing, in our thinking, will allow us to compromise on the autonomy of decision-making in matters relating to the research and development. We will not agree to any dilution that would prevent us from securing the benefits of full civil nuclear co-operation as I have amplified a moment ago.
The second question that was raised was about this concern with reciprocity, whether reciprocity is not being compromised under pressure from the United States. Let me candidly state what our position is. I had earlier assured the House that reciprocity is the key to the implementation of our understanding contained in the July, 2005 Statement. I stand by that commitment. When we put forward the Separation Plan, we again made it clear to the United States that India could not be expected to take on obligation such as placing its nuclear facilities under safeguards in anticipation of future lifting of restrictions. India and the United States have held one round of discussions on a proposed bilateral co-operation agreement. India and the International Atomic Energy Agency have held preliminary technical discussion regarding an India-specific safeguards agreement. Further discussions are required on both these documents. While these parallel efforts are underway, our position is that we will accept only International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on the nuclear facilities in a phased manner and as identified for that purpose in the Separation Plan, but only when all nuclear restrictions on India have been lifted. So, there will be, there has not been any dilution of our pledge to this House as far as I am concerned. On July 29 last year, I had stated that before voluntarily placing our civil nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, we would ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted. There has been no shift in our position on this point.
The third issue of certification, the annual certification, has been raised. Let me clarify the position on where we stand. The draft Senate Bill requires the US President to make an annual report to the Congress that includes certification that India is in full compliance of its non-proliferation and other commitments. We have made it clear to the United States our opposition to these provisions, even if they are projected as non-binding on India, as being contrary to the letter and spirit of the July Statement. We have told the United States Administration that the effect of such certification will be to diminish a permanent waiver authority into an annual one. We have also indicated that this would introduce an element of uncertainty regarding future co-operation and is, therefore, not acceptable to us.
Sir, another issue has been India's acceptance as a nuclear weapon State or the phrase that is used in the July Statement as a State possessing advanced nuclear technology. Let me clarify where we stand. Hon. Members may recall that the July Statement had acknowledged that India should be regarded as a State with advanced nuclear technology enjoying the rights and the benefits as other States with advanced nuclear technology such as the United States.
(continued by 5J)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): The July statement did not refer to India as a nuclear weapon State because that has a particular connotation. Since the NPT could not be amended, we could not claim that we will get the formal status of the Nuclear Weapon State. But the July statement explicitly recognizes the existence of India's military nuclear facilities. It also meant that India would not attract full scope safeguards such as those applied to non-nuclear weapon States that are signatories to the NPT, and, there would be no curbs on continuation of India's nuclear weapon related activities.
In these important respects, India would be very much on par with five nuclear weapon States who are signatories to the NPT. Similarly, the Separation Plan provided for an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors together with India's right to take corrective measures in the event that fuel supplies are interrupted. We have made clear to the United States that India's strategic programme is totally outside the purview of the July statement and we oppose any legislative provision that mandates scrutiny of either our nuclear weapons programme or our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.
Sir, questions have been raised about the safeguards agreement and the fuel assurances. What do they mean? Let me set out what my understanding is. In this respect also, Sir, it is worth emphasizing that the March, 2006 Separation Plan provides for an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with assurances of uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under IAEA safeguards together with India's right to take corrective measures in the event fuel supplies are interrupted. We, of course, have the sovereign rights to take all appropriate measures to fully safeguard our interest in unforeseen contingencies. An important assurance is the commitment of support for India's right to build up strategic reserves of nuclear fuel over the lifetime of India's reactors. We have initiated technical discussions at the expert level with the International Atomic Energy Agency on an India-specific safeguards agreement. Both the Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the United States and the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA would be only within the parameters of the July statement and the March Separation Plan. There is no question of India signing either a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency or an additional protocol of a type, which is concluded by non-nuclear weapon States, who have signed the NPT. We will not accept any verification measures regarding our safeguarded nuclear facilities beyond those contained in an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Therefore, there is no question of allowing American inspectors to roam around our nuclear installations.
Sir, concern has been expressed about the integrity and reliability of our strategic programme, the autonomy of decision making and future scientific research and development prospects. Sir, in my statement of March 2, 2006, I had assured the Parliament that the Separation Plan would not adversely affect our strategic programme in any way. I reiterate that commitment today.
(Contd. by 5k-Sk)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): The Separation Plan has been so designed as to ensure adequacy of fissile material and other inputs for our strategic programme based on our own current and assessed future needs. The integrity of the three-stage nuclear programme will not be affected. The autonomy of our research and development activity, the development of the fast breeder and thorium technology in the nuclear field will remain unaffected. We will not accept interference by other countries vis-a-vis the development of our strategic programme. We will not allow external scrutiny of our strategic programme in any manner, much less, allow it to be a condition for future nuclear cooperation between India and the international community.
Sir, I should say a few words about this whole issue of the moratorium on production of fissile material. Some hon. Members have raised this issue and I should like to state what our position is. Our position on this matter is also unambiguous. We are not willing to accept the moratorium on the production of fissile material. We are only committed to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, a Commitment which was undertaken by the previous Government. India is willing to join only a non-discriminatory multilaterally negotiated and internationally verifiable FMCT as and when it is concluded in the Conference on Disarmament, again provided our security interests are fully addressed.
Sir, some hon. Members have raised issues about the universal nuclear disarmament in the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. Let me say where we stand. Our commitments towards non-discriminatory global nuclear disarmament remains unwavering, in line with the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. There is no dilution on this count. We do not accept proposals put forward from time to time for regional non-proliferation or regional disarmament. Pending global nuclear disarmament, there is no question of India joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state or accepting full scope safeguards as a requirement for nuclear supplies to India, now or in the future.
Some hon. Members asked this question what happens if there is a cessation of future cooperation. There is provision in the proposed US law that were India to detonate a nuclear explosive device, the US will have the right to cease further cooperation. Our position on this is also unambiguous. The US has been intimated that reference to nuclear detonation in the India-US Bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement as a condition for future cooperation is not acceptable to us. We are not prepared to go beyond a unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing as indicated in the July Statement. The same is true of other intrusive non-proliferation benchmarks that are mentioned in the proposed US legislation. India's possession and development of nuclear weapons is an integral part of our national security. This will remain so.
Some hon. Members will appreciate the fact that an international negotiation on nuclear energy cooperation, particularly, when it involves dismantling of restrictive regimes which have lasted for more than three decades, is a highly complex and sensitive exercise. What we are attempting today is to put in place new international arrangements that would overturn three decades of iniquitous restrictions on nuclear trading with India. (Contd. by 5L-YSR)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): It is inevitable, therefore, that there would be some contradictory pulls and pressures. This does not mean that India will succumb to pressures or accept conditionalities that are contrary to its national interest. Sir, I had personally spoken to President Bush in St. Petersburg last month on this issue, and conveyed to him that the proposed US legislation must conform strictly to the parameters of the July 18th 2005 Statement and the March 2, 2006 Separation Plan. This alone would be an acceptable basis for nuclear cooperation between India and the United States. I repeat, Sir, this alone would be an acceptable basis for nuclear cooperation between India and the United States. India cannot, and is not prepared to, take on additional commitments outside this agreed framework or allow any extraneous issues to be introduced. I have received an assurance from the US President that it was not his intention to shift goalposts, and that the parameters of the scope of cooperation would be those contained in the July 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan. A White House Statement of Administration Policy of July 26th 2006 recognises some, though not all, of India's concerns, and conveyed that the administration has voiced them with the Congress.
Mr. Chairman, Sir, I can assure you that there is no ambiguity in our position insofar as it has been conveyed to the US. The US is aware of our position that the only way forward is strict adherence to the July Statement and the March Separation Plan. I am hopeful that the bilateral India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, when concluded, will take into account the issues raised here. However, I must be very honest and frank, I cannot predict with certainty the final form of the US legislation or the outcome of this process with the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, which consists of 45 countries with divergent interests. I am hopeful that this will lead in a direction wherein our interests are fully protected and that there is a complete lifting of restrictions on India that have existed for three decades. Such an outcome, if it materialises, will contribute to our long-term energy security by enabling a rapid increase in nuclear power. It would lead to the dismantling of the technology denial regimes that have hampered our development, particularly in high-tech sectors. I will have wide consultations including with the members of the Atomic Energy Commission, the nuclear and scientific communities, and others to develop a broad-based national consensus on this important matter. Sir, I would like to inform the House that I have called the members of the Atomic Energy Commission to meet me on the 26th of this month. I have also invited the distinguished group of scientists who have issued a statement the same evening to come and have a discussion with me, so that we can exchange views, and it will be my effort to evolve a broad-based national consensus on this issue.
Sir, I would only like to state that in keeping with our commitments to Parliament and the nation, we will not accept any conditions that go beyond the parameters of the July 18th 2005 Joint Statement and the March 2006 Separation Plan, agreed to between India and the United States. If in their final form, the US legislation or the adapted NSG guidelines impose extraneous conditions on India, you have my assurance, the Government will draw the necessary conclusions, consistent with the commitments I have made to Parliament. (Contd. by VKK/5M)
DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (CONTD.): Sir, our friends of the Left have valid concerns and I thought I owe it to them that I should reflect and state where I stand with regard to all those concerns. Therefore, the various points which have been raised today or elsewhere in the press, I have tried my very best to give as honest an answer as I can.
The first issue raised by Shri Prakash Karat and others is, whether the deal will give 'full' civilian nuclear technology and lift all existing sanctions on dual use technology imposed on India for not signing the NPT. What is my response? The response is, the objective of full civil nuclear cooperation is enshrined in the July Statement. This objective can be realised when current restrictions on nuclear trade with India are fully lifted. In accordance with the July Statement, the US has initiated steps to amend its legislation and to approach the Nuclear Supplier Group to adapt its guidelines. We seek removal of restriction on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers pertaining to civil nuclear energy -- ranging from supply of nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors, reprocessing spent fuel, that is, all aspects of complete nuclear fuel supply. Only such cooperation would be in keeping with the July Joint Statement.
The second issue that is being raised is, we cannot accept restrictions on Indian Foreign Policy to be imposed such as on Iran, irrespective of whether it is in the policy section or in the sense of the House section of the legislation. To this, my response is, our Government is clear that our commitments are only those that are contained in the July Joint Statement and in the Separation Plan. We cannot accept introduction of extraneous issues in Foreign Policy. Any prescriptive suggestions in this regard are not acceptable to us. Our Foreign Policy is and will be solely determined by our national interests. No legislation enacted in a foreign country can take away from us this sovereign right.
The third issue raised by our colleagues in the Left is, the signing of the IAEA safeguards in perpetuity for the civilian programme to take place after the US Congress had approved the 123 Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. All restrictions on India to be lifted before we sign the International Atomic Energy Commission safeguards. How true is it? My response is, I had conveyed to Parliament on July 29, 2005 on my return from Washington that before placing any of our nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted. Under the Separation Plan agreed to with the United States, India has offered to place under IAEA safeguards fourteen of its reactors presently operating or under construction between 2006 and 2014. The nuclear facilities listed in the Separation Plan will be offered for safeguards only after all nuclear restrictions have been lifted on India. This will include suitable amendments to the US legislation to allow for such cooperation, the passing of the bilateral agreement with India and the adaptation of the NSG guidelines. It is, therefore, clear that India cannot be expected to take safeguard obligations on its nuclear facilities in anticipation of future lifting of restrictions.
The fourth issue which is raised is regarding the guarantees on fuel as agreed in the March 2006 Statement. In case the US reneges on supply of fuel, will they ensure continuity through other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group? Our response is, Separation Plan includes elaborate fuel supply assurances given by the United States.
(Contd. by MKS/5n)