New Delhi, Dec 4: The Rajya Sabha will discuss the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation deal today. The discussion will be held under a rule which does not entail voting. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will reply to the debate on the deal. The debate is being held under amid renewed pressures from the Left parties over the agreement and opposition demand that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh should reply.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi on Monday insisted that only Mukherjee will reply to the debate and remained non-committal on whether the Prime Minister would at least intervene.
The Lok Sabha had discussed the matter on November 28 when Mukherjee had underlined the benefits of the bilateral deal. In his speech in the Lower House, Mukherjee had said the deal was in India's favour, as it would help cut the cost of power to a good extent.
India imports 100 billion-barrel of oil by paying a heavy amount and the bilateral deal would cut the cost of power, he said adding the agreement, which was paved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W Bush on July 18, 2005 during the former's visit to Washington, would also enable India to get access to the nuclear technology for civilian use, which would prove beneficial for the country in future.
On the same day, Manmohan Singh said that the civilian nuclear agreement would not tie the hands of the Government from conducting a nuclear test in future. "If a necessity for carrying out a nuclear test arises in future, there is nothing in the agreement that prevents us from carrying out tests," Singh had said.
Singh's assurance came when the Leader of Opposition L K Advani said in his speech that the terms of the 123 agreement with the US would stop India from conducting a nuclear test in future. Advani had said the deal was "unacceptable" as it was "deeply detrimental" to the country's long-term interests.
Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, on November 21, initiated the process of talks with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei on India-specific safeguards agreement related to the nuclear deal.
After too much of hue and cry, the Left parties gave the green signal to the government to approach the IAEA for holding talks on an India-specific safeguards agreement. However, the Left asked the Government not to initiate any accord, but bring back the draft of the safeguards agreement to the UPA-Left Committee.
Pranab Mukherjee convenes the 15-member UPA-Left panel on the nuclear deal. It was formed to resolve disagreements between the two sides over the nuclear deal. The Indo-US nuke-deal faces an informal US deadline related to securing approval of America's Congress well before the next year presidential polls.
Three steps are required to operationalise the deal that include, safeguard agreement with the IAEA, amendment in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group's charter and the passing of the 123-agreement by the US Congress.