Three top scientists against India rushing to safeguards agreement

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New Delhi, Jun 24 (UNI) The Left, dead against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pushing the Indo-US nuclear deal, today got endorsement of its views with three top scientists of the country cautioning the government against rushing to safeguards agreement with IAEA without debating its implications within the country, or at least within UPA-Left Committee.

They demanded that the government place entire safeguards agreement and related papers before the UPA-Left Committee for their evaluation, and spell out the ''corrective measures'' which it has been asserting would be provided in the agreement to enable India to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies.

Disputing the government view that the deal would bring energy security to the country, the scientists said in a statement here that the additional power would come at a much higher cost per unit of electricity compared to conventional coal or hydro power, which the country can generate without any foreign imports.

The nuclear deal could also have other serious repercussions, including potential weakening of the country's nuclear deterrent, they said.

The statement was signed by Dr P K Iyenagar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Dr A N Prasad, former director Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

The scientists sought to rubbish the argument that the deal will be governed only by the bilateral 123 Agreement, saying the agreement was anchored in the US domestic laws, which include the Hyde Act, and that act contained several stipulations which were extraneous to the issue of bilateral nuclear cooperation, including foreign policy behaviour which India needs to adhere to if the deal was to be kept alive.

''The real issue facing India, therefore, is whether or not we want this mythical extra energy security through this deal, paying almost thrice the unit capital cost of conventional power plants, with additional burden of subjugating the freedom to pursue a foreign policy and indigenous nuclear research and design programme of our own,'' they said.

The central issue about the IAEA safeguards agreement was as to how ''India-specific' these were, the scientists said, seeking to point out that under the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement, no uninterrupted fuel supplies had been guaranteed for reactors which the country would place under safeguards.

''However, the government had assured that this defect will be corrected in the safeguards agreement. Since the IAEA was all along known to be fuel supply guarantor, there was a serious doubt whether Indian negotiators obtained any assurance in this regard,'' the statement said.

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