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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indian Foreign Secretary: We will soon bring nuclear deal to fruition

India on Saturday said it would be happy to participate in providing a home to a nuclear fuel bank for supplying fuel to nations interested in renewing their atomic energy programmes.

“We run a full nuclear fuel cycle of our own and we would be happy to participate in providing a home for a nuclear fuel bank,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said in an interactive session at the India Global Forum here.

However, he said discussions on this issue “were a long way away.”

The concept was floated by International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammad ElBaradei last year.

It seeks to set up an international uranium enrichment facility where countries can source their requirements to run atomic power plants.

On the civil nuclear agreement with the U.S., Mr. Menon said India hoped to bring the deal to “fruition” soon.

“We hope civil nuclear cooperation with the U.S. and other countries will become possible soon ... we hope to bring it to fruition soon,” he said.

On the Iran issue, Mr. Menon said it was not in India’s interest to have another nuclear weapons state in its neighbourhood but Tehran had the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy subject to its international obligations.

Mr. Menon allayed apprehensions about a nuclear flare-up between India and Pakistan. “Immediately after the 1998 tests, both India and Pakistan realised that we needed to be in touch with each other. In 1999 itself we agreed on a series of nuclear confidence building measures and we have been carrying that out,” he said.

India and Pakistan have set up an expert group on nuclear CBMs.

The two countries notify each other on ballistic missile tests and have a series of engagements.

Mr. Menon said India was committed to the reconstruction of the war-ravaged Afghanistan notwithstanding militants’ attacks on its nationals there.

“Our commitment is quite clear. I think what is important in Afghanistan is we should not look at it as a mere law and order situation.” He said the real challenge for the international community is to enable creation of plural groups and a stable society and economy in the restive nation.

“We have presence all over Afghanistan — almost 4,000 Indians working there,” Mr. Menon said, pointing out that India’s work there was truly crucial for the international effort.

(Source: The Hindu)

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