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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Uproar as PM backs nuclear deal
Manmohan Singh
Mr Singh described the deal as "historic"
Indian PM Manmohan Singh has defended a controversial nuclear deal with the United States amid uproarious scenes in the country's parliament.

Mr Singh said that the landmark deal would not undermine India's nuclear weapons programme.

Under the deal, India gets access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel.

The opposition and the government's Communist allies, who provide it crucial support, say the deal could compromise foreign policy.


Even as Mr Singh stoutly defended the civilian nuclear agreement with Washington, his voice was drowned out by angry opposition MPs who called for it to be cancelled.

Mr Singh said the agreement was a historic one and would open new doors to India across the world.

India has 14 reactors in commercial operation and nine under construction
Nuclear power supplies about 3% of India's electricity
By 2050, nuclear power is expected to provide 25% of the country's electricity
India has limited coal and uranium reserves
Its huge thorium reserves - about 25% of the world's total - are expected to fuel its nuclear power programme long-term
Source: Uranium Information Center

He said the deal would not in any way affect India's right to carry out nuclear tests in the future or inhibit the country's nuclear weapons programme.

Under the agreement, India is allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel - something that is seen as a major concession and opposed by some members of the US Congress.

But last week, the government's Communist allies described the deal as an unequal one and said it would give the US leverage over India's foreign policy.

The prime minister has refused to back down, even challenging the Communists to withdraw their support for his government.

The deal reverses three decades of US anti-proliferation policy and formalises a warmer relationship between two nations who endured difficult ties during the Cold War.

Both India and the US insist the deal is only about cooperation in civil nuclear energy, not the balance of power in the region.

But Pakistan has warned that the accord threatens regional stability, saying it would allow its arch rival to produce more atomic bombs.

Scenes of protest in India's parliament

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