NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao told the Lok Sabha that the contract with Russia for the transfer of rocket technology to this country has “not been suspended nor cancelled so far.”

In a statement on this issue following persistent demands from the Opposition whether the United States was putting pressure on Russia to stall the rocket technology transfer the Prime Minister explained that the later had sought a pause” for want of further technical discussions with India on the subject.

Pointing out that Dr. V. R. Rao secretary in the department of space was currently in Moscow for discussions on this subject Rao said the Russians perhaps wanted to discuss the technical safety of the program the engine transaction and be assured of the technical capability in this country.

He explained that the reports received from the space secretary in Moscow did not refer to any insurmountable difficulties or that India might have to call it (the contract) off hope that this matter will fructify.” “Maintaining that this technology did not entail any military application Rao emphasized that India would like to continue such cooperation for mutual benefit. At the same time the alternative was to develop the technologies indigenously though this might entail a longer time-frame and in some cases higher cost.

He declared “we are determined to do so and sometimes temporary difficulties that we encounter in acquiring (technologies) from abroad becomes a boon given the [additional urge to develop our own.” Rao said he was aware of the concern of members in this matter and assured them that the “government is fully alive to the situation.”

The Prime Ministers detailed statement came after the minister of state Eduardo Faleiro intervention in the debate on the demands for grants of the minister of external affairs spread over three days. The House passed voice vote the demands of grant of the ministry of external affair

Apart from giving details about Indias desire to acquire cryogenic engines and related technology for its peaceful space program Rao also responded to questions from Jaswant Sing! (BIP) Inderjit (Congress) and Bhogendra Jha (CPI) about the latest situation in Afghanistan and rice export to Cuba Rao explained that the situation was “very uncertain” in Afghanistan at present. The government might be in a position to make a statement only after a few days

Asked if Dr. Najibullah had sought asylum in this country the Prime Minister replied “we are in hourly touch with the situation in Afghanistan AC the earliest opportunity that we are able to do so we shall come to the House.”

On rice exports to Cuba Rao said according to information available one of the Communist parties also wanted to send rice to that country

He acknowledged that some hurdles were sought to be placed in the rice export to Cuba this issue was no longer relevant in helping Cuba.” We have our own limitations I had also spoken to the Cuban foreign minister when he had visited this country. The problems are being sorted out” Rao observed.

Earlier dwelling on the contract with Glavkosmos of Russia for the supply of cryogenic engines and related technology he said to develop the capability of launching satellites in space the acquisition of hardware and technology pertaining to a geostationary launch vehicle (GSLV) using what was known as a cryogenic engine was of critical importance.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 8, 1996