Politics:India sticks to its stand on NPT

Banglore,May 30: External affairs minister S M Krishna on Friday signalled that India will rebuff renewed American attempts to get the country to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), weeks ahead of a scheduled visit by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

India will reiterate its long-standing position on the treaty, which it regards as discriminatory, when Ms Clinton visits the country in July, he told ET in his first interview to a newspaper after assuming office on Monday.

“Every country has its nuclear policy… Our position has been made very clear,” he said. After a lull of eight years under George W Bush’s presidency, the Barack Obama administration has revived talk that it wants India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea to sign the NPT amid preparations for a conference to review the treaty next year.

India and the United States finalised a civil nuclear agreement last year amid stiff opposition from the nuclear non-proliferation lobby which regards it as a threat to the NPT. India has maintained that it will not sign the treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state.

On Sri Lanka, Mr Krishna said that the Tamil-speaking population would have to choose who would represent their interests in the effort to work out a political solution to the crisis in the island nation after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was vanquished and its leader Velupillai Prabhakran slain.

“The Tamil population will have to decide… Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse has promised to accelerate the process of devolution of power. He is due to come to India next month and I look forward to a useful exchange of views,” he said.

The Pakistani army’s ongoing operation against the Taliban insurgents in the North-West Frontier Province did not necessarily mean that it is committed to putting an end to the terror aimed against India from its soil, he observed.

“What is happening there now is an internal matter. What we are looking for is whether Pakistan has made up its mind to dismantle the infrastructure of terror on its soil which is directed against India.” India, he said, would know when Pakistan’s terror infrastructure is finally dismantled, and then restart the process of dialogue with its neighbour.

“We have many ways of knowing if Pakistan is continuing to harbour terrorists. We get periodic reports.”

The 77-year-old sought to remove the perception in the neighbourhood that India behaves like a “big brother” and said he aims for a “strategic partnership” with all nations in the region. “Our approach is that we are all equal. But we cannot help the fact that we are a big nation of one billion people.”

The “big-brother” refrain has been loudest from Nepal, where newly-installed leader Madhav Kumar Nepal is struggling to form a cabinet after the former Maoist prime minister Prachanda resigned due a bitter row over the sacking of the army chief.

“Let us give the new prime minister more time. We hope the Maoists will co-operate so that there is political stability in Nepal and a new constitution can be drafted,” he said.