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Strategic programme not recognised, says Burns

Washington: The United States has made it clear that the recently signed nuclear deal does not amount to recognition of India as a nuclear weapons state.

"India has a strategic programme. The U.S. and other countries have not recognised that programme. This agreement does not recognise that programme," said Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, while launching an aggressive campaign to drum up support for the deal from sceptical lawmakers.

Mr. Burns, who played a key role in clinching the deal, said the pact would bring India into the "non-proliferation mainstream" and dismissed any comparison between the Indian and Iranian programmes.

Giving a preview of the Bush administration's decision, he told an audience at the Heritage Foundation here on Monday that the deal was good for India and the U.S., and brought "India into the non-proliferation mainstream."

Major gain

The agreement, finalised during the visit of President Bush to New Delhi last week, "will allow India for the very first time in the life of its nuclear programme ... to be able to submit itself in a transparent way for international inspections. We think this is a major gain for the non-proliferation community."

Mr. Burns said all civilian reactors built by India in future would come under international safeguards. "On a deal as esoteric, and, frankly, as complex as this one, members of the Senate and House are going to want to see the details and a full explanation, and how we intend to give them," he said. It might take "several weeks or even months" before Congress approved it, he added. — PTI

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