India's senior-most nuclear scientists have written to Members of Parliament warning that the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal infringes on indigenous research and development, and that the country should guard against accepting "any agreement in perpetuity" until such time the final aim of universal nuclear disarmament is realised.
15 August 2006
'Set ground rules on nuclear deal'
New Delhi: Concerned by the legislative shape the India-U.S. nuclear agreement is taking in Washington, a group of senior nuclear scientists has called on Parliament to take a "unanimous decision" rejecting any "restraint in perpetuity" on the country's freedom of action or research capabilities in the nuclear field.
The statement, signed by eight top scientists, including three former chairmen of the Atomic Energy Commission, is likely to strengthen the Left's demand for Parliament to adopt a resolution highlighting India's concerns about the deal.
"Unacceptable to India"
The scientists hail the July 18, 2005 agreement with the U.S. and welcome India's prospective entry into the "international nuclear community."
But they say the U.S. Congress has "modified ... the implementation of [the] agreement" and that if the draft U.S. law is passed in the present form, "the `product' will become unacceptable to India." Stressing that it will be difficult to scrap these modifications once legislated, the scientists say Parliament must "work out, and insist on, the ground rules for the nuclear deal, at this stage itself."
The statement identifies four areas of concern. First, that India "cannot accede to any restraint in perpetuity on [its] freedom of action" as far as the strategic requirements of its nuclear option are concerned. "Universal nuclear disarmament must be our ultimate aim and until we see the light at the end of the tunnel... we cannot accept any agreement in perpetuity."
Second, they say India's capability in sensitive technological areas should not be subjected to external control and that safeguards should be "strictly restricted to those facilities and materials imported from external sources."
Third, the U.S. draft law "infringes on [India's] independence for carrying out indigenous R&D in nuclear science and technology" and Parliament should ensure that Indian research and design is "not hampered by external supervision or control." Finally, say the scientists, it is Parliament's right to decide "the basic principles" on which the nuclear deal will be implemented and it must act now.
The signatories are H.N. Sethna, M.R. Srinivasan and P.K. Iyengar, all former chairmen of the AEC, A. Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, S.L. Kati, former director of the Nuclear Power Corporation, A.N. Prasad, former director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Y.S.R. Prasad, former chairman and managing director of NPC, and Placid Rodriguez, former director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research.