Manmohan assures peaceful use of nuclear technology

By Gurmukh Singh and Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS,

Toronto: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday assured that the nuclear technology and material supplied to India under civil atomic energy pacts will only be used for peaceful purposes.

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“There is absolutely no scope whatsoever of the nuclear materials or nuclear equipment in India being used for unintended purposes,” Singh said at a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

“We did engage in extensive negotiations to deal with those issues and the Indian side was very forthcoming with the safeguards we require to have absolute confidence in those kinds of matters,” Harper said on his part.

The press conference was held immediately after the two countries inked a civilian nuclear energy pact, on the lines India has with eight other nations, including the US, France and Russia.

Alluding to the sanctions imposed by Ottawa after the nuclear tests conducted by New Delhi in 1974, the Canadian prime minister said in the contemporary world his country could not act as though it was living in an era that existed 30 years ago.

“We are living in very different realities today. India is a country – a very important country – a country that will be even more important in the future that shares with us key values.”

He said New Delhi and Ottawa today shared common interests and also faced common threats. Canada, he added, was keen that India, which urgently needs energy, develops its nuclear industry and wanted to be a part of the initiative.

The two countries also signed the following bilateral pacts:

-On higher education to encourage the development of synergies between Canadian and Indian post-secondary institutions.

-On earth sciences and mining to foster improved dialogue on mining and related activities, including bilateral investment.

-On cultural cooperation to facilitate bilateral initiatives and help showcase Canadian cultural content in India, and Indian cultural content in Canada.

The two leaders also welcomed the conclusion of the report of the joint study group on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and hoped to finalise the pact by late October.