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Nuclear programme not to be capped: PMnews
07 March 2006

New Delhi: Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh today told parliament that India''s nuclear policy would continue to guided by restraint and responsibility and there would be no capping of India''s strategic nuclear programme. He added that Washington has assured uninterrupted supply of fuel for Indian reactors under international safeguards.

He said that though India had decided to place under safeguards all future civilian thermal power reactors and civilian breeder reactors, but the government of India retained the sole right to determine such reactors as civilian.

"I wish to emphasise that the choice of specific nuclear reactors and phases in which they would be placed under safeguards is an Indian decision. We are preparing a list of 14 reactors that would be offered for safeguards between 2006-14," the Prime Minister said

He added that of the 22 thermal power reactors in operation or under construction, India would identify and place under IAEA safeguards 14 thermal power reactors between 2006-14 in a phased manner. Accordingly, the total installed thermal power capacity under safeguards would rise from 19 per cent at present to 65 per cent by 2014.

According to the PM India would not be constrained in any manner in building future nuclear facilities, whether civilian or military depending on the country''s requirements. . Dr Singh also announced that India had decided to permanently shut down the Cirus reactor in 2010. He said that the fuel core of the Apsara reactor, bought from France, could be shifted from its present location and placed under safeguards in 2010. Both Cirus and Apsara are located at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai.

He explained that the government had decided to take these steps rather than allow "intrusive inspections in a nuclear facility of high national security importance" and to prevent any hindrance to on-going research and development activities.

He said it had been conveyed to the US that India would not accept any safeguards on the prototype fast breeder reactor and the fast breeder test reactor, both located at Kalpakkam. The fast breeder programme is at a research and development stage.

"The separation plan does not come in the way of the integrity of our three-stage nuclear programme, including the future use of our thorium reserves," Singh said.

Singh said this technology would take time to mature to reach an advanced stage of development. "We do not wish to place any encumbrances on our fast breeder programme, and this has been fully ensured in the separation plan," he said. The PM said reprocessing and enrichment capabilities and other facilities associated with the fuel cycle for the strategic programme have been kept out of the separation plan.

One of the important issues addressed in the separation plan was the need to ensure reliability of fuel supplies, "given our unfortunate past experience with regard to interruption in supply of fuel for Tarapur," Dr Singh said.

Dr Singh said that India had received commitments from the US for reliable supply of fuel for its reactors that will be offered for safeguards and that Washington had also decided to take additional steps like incorporating assurance regarding fuel supply in a bilateral Indo-US agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which would be negotiated between the two countries, and would support India''s efforts to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India''s reactors.

The PM disclosed that the US had also assured that it would join India in seeking to negotiate an India-specific fuel supply agreement with the IAEA. He said that if despite these measures, a disruption of fuel supplies to India were to take place, the US and India would jointly convene a group of friendly supplier countries to include countries such as Russia, France and the UK to pursue such measures as would restore fuel supply to India," he said.

Singh said the proposed India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA in essence would provide safeguards against withdrawal of safeguarded nuclear material from civilian use at any time, and also permit India to take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies.

Taking this into account, India will place its civilian nuclear facilities under "India-specific safeguards in perpetuity" and negotiate an appropriate agreement with the IAEA, he said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the autonomy of the research and development activities in the nuclear field would remain unaffected. He said the separation plan had been drawn up after an intensive consultation process overseen by his office. The department of atomic energy and the country''s nuclear scientific community have been associated with the preparation of this plan.

"We have not permitted information of national security significance to be compromised in any way during the negotiations," he said.

Besides ending India''s nuclear isolation, the nuclear deal opened up prospects for cooperation not only with the US but with countries like Russia, France and others with advanced nuclear capabilities, Singh said.

The PM highlighted the "reciprocity" of the deal saying, "steps to be taken by India will be contingent upon actions taken by the US."

He said India will not accept any provisions that go "beyond" the parameters of the July 18, 2005 joint statement and the separation plan, he said.


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Nuclear programme not to be capped: PM