On Board Air-India One, July 9: President George W. Bush has indicated that the US would be willing to help India with its nuclear energy needs by making it easy for Delhi to purchase reactors in the world market.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Bush had reiterated this at Gleneagles at the G8 summit. This would mean moving towards lifting US sanctions imposed on India in 1998.
Bush had been positive about India’s nuclear energy needs, the Prime Minister said, in each of the three meetings that he had with him ' presumably referring to a meeting in New York last year, another at Moscow last month and then at Gleneagles this week.
India wants to buy civilian nuclear reactors in the international market with Russia, France and the US being the potential suppliers. However, US sanctions imposed in the wake of the May 1998 nuclear tests prevent the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ' a cartel of nations with the capability to transfer nuclear technology ' from selling to India.
Although it may be premature to say whether the sanctions imposed in 1998 would be withdrawn immediately, some “positive developments” are expected in this context during Singh’s forthcoming visit to Washington DC next week.
The Prime Minister said that at Gleneagles during his intervention at the G8 meeting, he had mentioned India’s need for nuclear power.
Bush, who was present at the meeting, he said, was supportive and quoted him as telling the G8 leaders, “Yes, India needs to be helped in this regard.”
Singh said he would use the opportunity of his bilateral visit to America to “explain to the US and the US Congress what our aspirations are.... If the international system is more accommodative, then that should solve our problems”.
However, he cautioned: “I have been in this business long enough to recognise that there are strong vested interests (involved). Nobody gives up power voluntarily.”
That Singh was balancing India’s pursuit of its interests and not trying to fit into the US world view was evident when he was asked whether India might not succumb to pressure to abandon the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.
“India is not a client state,” he said firmly.