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Statement by External Affairs Minister in Parliament relating to the Indo-US bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement

New Delhi
August 16, 2007

Questions have been raised about India’s right to test when the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the US enters into force. The factual position is as follows:

India has the sovereign right to test and would do so if it is necessary in national interest. The only restraint in our voluntary unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, declared by the previous government and being continued by the successor government. There is nothing in the bilateral agreement that would tie the hands of a future government or legally constrain its options. A decision to undertake a future nuclear test would be India’s sovereign decision, resting solely with the Government of India.

Nowhere in the bilateral agreement on Cooperation for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy with the United States of America is testing mentioned. The bilateral cooperation agreement contains elaborate provisions in Articles 5 and 14 to ensure the continuous operation of India’s reactors. These include fuel supply assurances, the right to take corrective measures, and a strategic fuel reserve for the lifetime of India’s reactors in case of cessation of cooperation.