Securing energy security highpoint of US visit: PM

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Our Bureau

New Delhi, July 29

THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has asserted that his recent visit to the US has opened up new opportunities and possibilities for promoting India's energy security and pathways to accelerated social and economic development.

Making a suo moto statement in both the Houses of Parliament on Friday, the Prime Minister devoted a greater part of his speech to nuclear energy co-operation for civilian purposes with the US.

Dr Singh assured that "we have never made, nor will we ever make, any compromises insofar as our fundamental and strategic needs are concerned."

Stating that his visit to the US was undertaken to enhance solely with the purpose of enhancing relations with one of the world's "pre-eminent powers, so as to widen our development options," Dr Singh said: It was "my endeavour to expand our access to energy supplies to fuel our growth, while protecting our strategic interests."

"Our efforts to undo some of the long-standing restrictive nuclear regimes will enable us to secure access to the significantly greater quantities of energy that we will need to spur massive growth in our industrialisation programme."

A key element of "my interaction with President Bush was the resumption of bilateral civilian nuclear co-operation" which has been frozen for decades. "Full civilian nuclear energy co-operation would include, but not limit itself, to the expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for Tarapur. The US will also encourage other partners to consider similar requests favourably," Dr Singh said.

"We also obtained consideration of our desire to participate as full partners in the International Thermo Nuclear Research Project and the Generation IV International Forum." Dr Singh said, "What we have now agreed with the US should open up the possibility of our being able to access nuclear fuel and nuclear power reactors and other technologies from outside to supplement our domestic efforts."

He said the joint statement refers to "our identifying and separating civilian and military nuclear facilities in a phased manner and taking a decision to place voluntarily civilian unclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."

Asserting that India would never accept discrimination, the Prime Minister said, "There is nothing in this joint statement that amounts to limiting or inhibiting our strategic nuclear weapons programme over which we will retain unrestricted, complete and autonomous control."

Before voluntarily placing our civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards, Dr Singh said, "We will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 30, 2005)
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