Karat sounds fresh warning against N-deal

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Kolkata, Jul 5 (UNI) Sounding a fresh warning, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat today said the country's time-tested independent foreign policy and regional autonomy would be imperilled if the UPA Government pushed ahead with the India-US civil nuclear deal.

''Our independent foreign policy, regional autonomy and energy security will be in peril if we go for defence and military cooperation, strategic and economic partnership and the civil nuclear deal with the US,'' he said, while speaking at the commemmorative function on the birth centenary of Professor Hiren Mukherjee.

CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee were among other speakers.

Mr Karat said the safeguard agreement that the Government was poised to strike and the strategic alliance with the US had a 'vital bearing' on the course India would take in the 21st century.

Rejecting the argument that the nuke deal was essential for the country's energy security, Mr Karat said on the contrary it was detrimental since it would prevent India from going ahead with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and would make it dependant on the US.

''The US is holding our Government from going ahead with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. On every stage of negotiation they are dictating India. We are being bound by a 40-year agreement whereby our country will be dependant on the US for supply of very costly reactors,'' he said.

The CPI(M) General Secretary said it was according to the calculations of the Planning Commission that even if the country produced 40,000 MW of nuclear energy over the next 15 or 20 years, it would constitute only eight per cent of the total energy requirement.

Earlier in the day, Mr Karat told mediapersons that the Left parties were awaiting a reply to their letter to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that set July seven as the deadline to spell out whether the Government was going to the IAEA to finalise the Indo-US nuclear deal.

''We have sent a letter to Mr Mukherjee yesterday and we are waiting for his reply,'' Mr Karat said before meeting veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu at his Salt Lake residence.

Mr Karat, who was accompanied by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the party's state Secretary Biman Basu, held a closed door meeting with Mr Jyoti Basu which lasted 45 minutes.

Party sources said they apprised the nonagenarian patriarch of the party of latest developments on the nuclear deal issue and discussed the stand of the Left parties.

However, none of the leaders spoke to the media after the meeting.

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