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Indian opposition, left-wing MPs protest U.S. nuclear deal

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NEW DELHI, August 16 (RIA Novosti) - Indian opposition and left-wing deputies disrupted a parliamentary session Thursday in protest against a nuclear cooperation deal with the United States, approved by the Indian government in July.

The deal has been stalled for two years mainly over India's insistence on its right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and on the possibility of conducting nuclear weapons tests in the future. India is currently under a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear bomb tests.

Under the new deal, Washington may reportedly cut off supplies in the event of a test. The agreement was also reported to allow India to reprocess U.S. nuclear material in UN-monitored facilities to ensure it is used for civilian purposes.

India's Prime Minister Manmokhan Singh moved Monday to allay lawmakers' fears that the deal would undermine the country's "sovereign right" to pursue nuclear weapons.

"The agreement does not block or restrict our capabilities in the nuclear sphere," Manmokhan Singh said.

Singh has been under pressure from the opposition and the military over the deal, which they fear could limit the country's defense capabilities.

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