Today's Paper

U.S. gave `blueprint' on nuclear facilities

Shyam Saran denies receiving any such document; allegations of DAE being sidelined in the discussions

Diplomatic Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The United States "presented" India with a "blueprint" suggesting how New Delhi could go about separating its civil and military nuclear facilities as a follow-up to the July 18 agreement.

A Reuters report from Washington said on Wednesday: "Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. negotiator on the nuclear deal, in September presented Indian officials with a blueprint suggesting how the Americans might go about separating the Indian nuclear facilities. But the Indians gave it back, saying they could do it themselves, a U.S. official and a source close to the [Bush] administration said."

Asked if the Americans provided any "blueprint," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told The Hindu on Thursday: "I have received no blueprint from the Americans."

Presented in October

The time-line would suggest that the Americans provided their plan to the Indians before the formal talks between Mr. Burns and Mr. Saran in the third week of October in New Delhi on implementing the deal.

Asked to respond to the Reuters report, the former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, A. Gopalakrishnan, said, "I'm surprised and sad to hear about such a report. Our Government should be telling us about what is going on [relating to the nuclear deal]."

According to him, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was being sidelined in the discussions on the agreement. "The DAE people are on the sidelines. The nation should go by the DAE's views."

The former Ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Ansari, said the American objective appeared to push India on a particular track. "They want to push you into the nuclear non-proliferation mould."

"Reciprocity is the key"

In a related development, Minister of State for External Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh informed the Lok Sabha in a written answer on Thursday that reciprocity was the key to implementing all the steps enumerated in the joint statement.

"We expect a close correlation between the actions to be taken by the U.S. and by India. Indian actions will be contingent at every stage on actions taken by the other side. There is no question of the U.S. imposing any restrictions in this regard."

According to him, no time frame had been stipulated in the joint statement. "The two sides, however, are working closely to implement the agreement at the earliest."

"The U.S. has not proposed any new norms regarding the understanding on civil nuclear cooperation. The implementation of the July 18 joint statement would be guided fully and entirely by the commitments contained in the joint statement only," he added.

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