"U.S. exploiting Indian weakness"

Special Correspondent

Former BARC official points to deviations from joint statement

MUMBAI: The former director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), A.N. Prasad, said here on Saturday that India should rigorously explore for new uranium deposits in the country to overcome its acute shortage.

Addressing a seminar on national security organised by the Bharat Vikas Parishad, Dr. Prasad said that 30 years ago there was little oil produced in the country but the exploration programme found reserves and the country tapped them. He wanted a similar approach for uranium.

"In a way this seems to be a case of the U.S. exploiting this weakness through the nuclear deal to push its long-standing non-proliferation agenda," he said.

He was highly sceptical of U.S. intentions and described how far the Hyde Act deviated from the July 18 joint statement to the detriment of Indian interests. "The basic premise of India being eligible to be treated as a responsible state similar to other advanced states like the U.S. was dumped straight away without any hue or cry by the negotiators and analysts in India," he said.

He rejected the argument that India should not bother about denial of full civil cooperation in fuel reprocessing, uranium enrichment and heavy water technology since the country had already developed these technologies.

"We may not be looking for know-how, but we should have access to the international market for items related to these and their exclusion means continuation of embargoes, restrictions and denials of supplies of equipment."

The nuclear scientist said that India could not afford to succumb to such a condition being imposed by the Hyde Act and must insist that nothing short of full nuclear cooperation was acceptable.

"Otherwise we will be ending up with only supply of reactors and totally dependent on the U.S. for fuel."