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Manmohan gave us what Atal refused: US expert

New Delhi, July 22: Former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was not willing
to "offer much to the United States in exchange for the (civilian nuclear
energy) agreement, we got more from the government of Dr Manmohan Singh,"
according to Dr Ashley Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace. Dr Tellis worked with US officials on the nuclear
agreement with India.

Dr Tellis, who was earlier posted at the US embassy here as adviser to former
ambassador Robert Blackwill, told Internet news site Rediff that the Vajpayee
government also wanted the deal, but one could not be reached because it was
not giving much to the US. He said he could not disclose what Washington had
wanted from the Vajpayee government but had been unable to get.

Asked by the reporter if Dr Manmohan Singh had caved in "easily", Dr Tellis
said, "There is no question of Dr Singh caving in, India has got a deal that it
would not have got in the past or in the future." Sources close to Mr Vajpayee
said there were three points that his government was not willing to concede to
Washington with a clear record of this being established through the Jaswant
Singh-Strobe Talbott talks. These concerned the CTBT, the moratorium on
fissile production and a proposed restrain in the nuclear regime. The bills now
pending a vote in the US Congress clearly seek to "cap, reduce and eliminate"
India's nuclear programme, the sources pointed out, adding that the US
administration at the time "knew from the record that the Vajpayee government
would not concede any ground on these issues".

The only issue that the NDA government reportedly was finally prepared to
"elaborate upon," the sources said, was the CTBT in that the US was told that
India would not come in the way if all the other countries agreed to ratify the
treaty. It did not come to that point finally as the US Senate itself rejected
the ratification of CTBT. The discussions, the sources said, did not get near
the shape of an agreement as the issues that needed to be reconciled for such
an agreement to take shape were not agreed upon by the NDA negotiators at the

"We did not give them anything, and they never came out with anything (like a
nuclear agreement) openly," the sources said. Dr Manmohan Singh has agreed to
accept all the conditions that were reportedly rejected by his predecessor. The
bill cleared by the US Senate committee on foreign relations seeks to "achieve
as quickly as possible a cessation of the production by India and Pakistan of
fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices".

The US Atomic Energy Act will be invoked to ensure that India cannot test a
nuclear device. Dr Tellis, who was here to "celebrate" the first anniversary of
the India-US civilian nuclear energy co-operation agreement, admitted in the
interview that the treaty "could" fall if India conducted a nuclear test.
Nuclear experts have already pointed towards US success in bringing India
within the CTBT "through the back door". Leading nuclear scientist Dr Homi
Sethna has gone on record to say that it would be better if India signed the
NPT than conformed to the provisions of the deal as "it was the lesser of the
two evils."

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