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    Indian PM says government committed to nuclear, solar power

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    India's government is committed to the development of both nuclear and solar power, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday.

    NEW DELHI, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - India's government is committed to the development of both nuclear and solar power, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Monday.

    The premier has come under pressure from communist allies in parliament over a nuclear energy deal with the United States, which is set to give India access to U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time since the 1970s. The communists, who believe the deal would subject the country to U.S. hegemony, have threatened to withdraw their support for the government if the deal is pursued.

    Prime Minister Singh, speaking at a ceremony marking the construction of new state oil company headquarters, said: "Our government remains committed to the development of nuclear energy."

    The nuclear deal with Washington had been stalled for two years mainly over India's insistence on its right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and the possibility of conducting nuclear weapons tests in the future. India, which has conducted nuclear weapons tests in the past and is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is currently under a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear bomb tests.

    Under the new deal, Washington could cut off nuclear fuel supplies in the event of a weapons test. The agreement allows India to reprocess U.S. nuclear material in UN-monitored facilities, to ensure it is used for civilian purposes.

    India is suffering from acute power shortages, and is currently struggling to meet the electricity needs of its rapidly-expanding economy. Without substantial hydrocarbon reserves, the country is shifting its energy balance in favor of nuclear power.

    Singh moved last 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," he said.

    The premier has also been under pressure from the military over the deal, which the army fears could compromise national defense.

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