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Updated: March 23, 2010 03:51 IST

Krishna: consider track record when allowing civil nuclear trade

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Union Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna said the U.S should consider the track record of every country with which they are going to sign a treaty. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu
Union Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna said the U.S should consider the track record of every country with which they are going to sign a treaty. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

India on Monday hoped the international community would strike the right balance when taking a decision on meeting the energy needs of “any” country through the nuclear route. The world must take on board the country's “track record” of proliferation of nuclear technology and weapons of mass destruction, said External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

“I am sure that the U.S. will constantly remember that the proliferation of nuclear weapons was because of certain indiscretions of certain countries and more particularly Pakistan and the clandestine activities which they carried on,” added Mr. Krishna.

The Minister's response came following media reports suggesting that the U.S. was “beginning to have a discussion with Pakistan” on allowing it to set up more nuclear plants to generate electricity. Pakistan like India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and needs an exemption to joint the civil nuclear mainstream.

The government and political parties began reacting after the media quoted U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Ann Patterson as observing that while in the U.S. “non-proliferation concerns were quite severe, I think we are beginning to pass those and this is a scenario that we are going to explore.”

However, a month before the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had favoured the U.S. cooperating with Islamabad in the civil nuclear arena. “In respect of civil nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S., we would like to encourage it as we believe every country has its right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” he had said in Washington.

The Left Parties felt India should not object to an emerging arrangement between two sovereign nations. But CPI leader D. Raja also pointed out the possibility of a ruinous nuclear race between India and Pakistan even if for peaceful activity. Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Tarun Vijay alleged that this development was part of Islamabad's “help me to help you” card using the Taliban to garner favours from Washington.

The Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi did not want to react to an issue between two sovereign nations. Besides, “we do not know the facts officially or unofficially. We will come out with our reaction only when we get to know the facts,” he added.

Pakistan wants to expand its civil nuclear energy programme because it argues that it is low on water and has insignificant fossil fuel reserves. At a global conference on civil nuclear energy this month, Pakistani nuclear scientist and its Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Ishfaq Ahmad had assured that the civil nuclear programme would be expanded in a “responsible manner keeping in view the considerations of safety, security and appropriate safeguards.”

Dr. Ahmad also said “there was no IAEA complaint against Pakistan about safeguard violations” with regard to its two plants, one of which was over three decades old. It is also building another civil nuclear plant with China's help, which would be connected to the grid next year.

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