|No country, howsoever powerful, will be allowed to influence our policy.... There is no question of American inspectors roaming around in our nuclear facilities
-Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha
New Delhi, Aug. 17: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India would never accept any law or condition that undermines the country’s nuclear programme or goes beyond the parameters set in two documents.
“If something is enforced on us in separation (plans of nuclear facilities) or other areas, the government will draw its own conclusion consistent with India’s national interests,” he said in his reply to a day-long debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Indo-US nuclear agreement. He did not specify what the conclusion might be but a senior colleague said India could walk out of the deal.
Singh said he had conveyed to the US President during the G8 meet in July that India would not accept any condition outside the framework of the two documents — the July 18, 2005, statement and the March 7, 2006, separation plan. George W. Bush had assured him he did not intend to shift the goalposts.
India will not accept anything beyond its existing voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing, the Prime Minister said. “Any reference in the various bills (before the US lawmakers) to India’s detonations as a condition for future co-operation is not acceptable. India’s possession and development of nuclear weapons is an integral part of our national security and will remain so,” Singh said.
“We live in an uncertain and unpredictable world. Our nuclear programme will be guided by autonomy and will depend solely on our assessment. This is a cardinal principle of our nuclear policy.”
At the end of the hour-long reply — delivered in Singh’s understated style — the Left appeared to have been silenced. “Let us accept the PM’s assurances as the sense of the House at this moment,” said Sitaram Yechury of the CPM, whose party had made common cause with the NDA and the Samajwadi Party to put the government on the mat over the nuclear deal.
With Singh’s reply covering a far wider ground than the nine points raised by the CPM and the three by eight retired nuclear scientists and sending the message that long-term business with the US would be on India’s terms, not one voice of protest was heard, save Yashwant Sinha’s.
Around 8.30 pm, the MPs, many of whom had for weeks raised a ruckus demanding a Parliament resolution, left the House quietly.
Singh said India would take a call on its nuclear weapons programme independently as long as he is the Prime Minister. No “power on earth” could influence the basic thrust of the country’s foreign policy.
The proposed US law on the nuclear deal would not “compromise our sovereignty”, he said, adding that India would not open its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards unless all restrictions on civilian nuclear supplies were lifted. No US inspectors would be allowed to “roam around India”.
He said India’s position on Iran would not be linked to the deal. Asserting that Parliament had no role in approving foreign policy, the Prime Minister said he had kept it informed about the negotiations and would continue to do so to ensure a broad consensus.