New Delhi: The former President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, on Thursday told Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh that the nuclear deal with the United States was beneficial for India and they should keep national interests above politics while firming up their stand on the issue. The SP leaders met Mr. Kalam at his residence after a meeting of the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA).

Mr. Mulayam Singh told reporters that Mr. Kalam told them that “the deal is in [the] national interest.”

“We will inform the UNPA leaders about our discussions with Mr. Kalam, who is a well-known and respected scientist. He is the father of nuclear technology of the country,” Mr. Mulayam Singh said.

Both leaders put forth before Mr. Kalam the statement issued by the PMO, seeking to address the party’s concerns, which were conveyed to National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan.

“He [Mr. Kalam] read it and said the country’s interest is bigger than politics and political parties,” Mr. Amar Singh said. Mr. Kalam told them, “I am not in politics but I have worked with nuclear weapon technology for a long time... the country needs clean nuclear energy.”

Nuclear tests

On apprehensions over India’s right to conduct nuclear tests once the deal comes into operation, he told them, “If other neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China make nuclear weapons, we will not be bound to the extent that we cannot scrap the deal for the sake of nation.”

The country had conducted five nuclear tests and does not need to carry out tests again and again.

“We are a nuclear weapon state and we don’t need to behave like any other country. In fact, we should have been in the NSG as a nuclear weapon state. The NSG is a grouping of 45 countries and not the U.S. alone, and till we develop thorium-based plants, any one of these countries can supply uranium to us.”

Mr. Kalam noted: “We need uranium, which is in short supply. That is why the present reactors are running at 30-40 per cent of their capacity. Till we develop thorium-based reactors, we need the deal for clean energy without compromising national sovereignty.” — PTI

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