New Delhi, July 14 : Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Monday lampooned both the UPA Government and the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on their continued defence of the draft text of the India-specific safeguards agreement, that if approved, will facilitate operationalisation of the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal.
Addressing a news conference in the capital this afternoon, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha categorically charged Dr. Singh with not having kept his promise to inform Parliament about the next steps in the deal, and of not evolving a consensus on what in political circles is being seen as a very vexed issue.
"The Indian Prime Minister has not kept his word and has flouted his own assurances to parliament vis-...-vis India-specific safeguards with the IAEA," they said, adding that their worst apprehensions have been confirmed.
They warned that national consensus on the issue was being sacrificed.
They said that the BJP has taken strong exception to the fact that a document that has serious long-term implications for India, and which has been made available to the governments and peoples of other countries, indeed, to the entire world through the Internet, was kept hidden from the political parties and people in India.
They also said that the draft Safeguards Agreement has made a mockery of the assurances that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had repeatedly given to the nation.
Recalling what Dr. Singh had said in the Lok Sabha on July 29, 2005, they said the Prime Minister had flouted the Agreement, when he said: "We shall undertake the same responsibilities and obligations as ... the US"; "we expect the same rights and benefits" as the US; and "India will never accept discrimination".
This assurance has been flouted, and now does not recognize India as a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) on par with the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.
The PM had assured that the Agreement would be "India-specific" - that is less onerous and intrusive than the Agreements with the Non-NWS. He had assured Parliament on August 17, 2006, that, "As a country with nuclear weapons, there is no question of India agreeing to a safeguards agreement or an Additional Protocol applicable to non-nuclear-weapons states of the NPT".
Far from it being an India-specific agreement, the accord resembles IAEA agreements with non-nuclear-weapons states. With the exclusion of the first two pages that contain the preamble, and a couple of other exceptions, the text is largely modelled on IAEA safeguards agreements with non-nuclear-weapons state. As sought by the United States, the text of the India-IAEA accord has been drawn from the strengthened INFCIRC-66/Rev.2 (16 September 1968) model for NNWS.
They also said that while five established nuclear powers have offered only 11 facilities in total less than one percent of their total facilities for IAEA safeguards, India has agreed to 35 of its facilities under inspection, which also includes research facilities.
They said these facilities include 14 power reactors; three heavy-water plants at Thal-Vaishet, Hazira and Tuticorin; six installations at the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad; the PREFRE reprocessing plant at Tarapur; and nine research facilities, such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology and Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. In addition, the Prime Minister has agreed to shut down by 2010 the Cirus research reactor, which is one of the two research reactors in India producing weapons-grade plutonium.
-There is no assurance of uninterrupted fuel supply.
- IAEA can conduct special inspections on the reactors.
- 'Corrective measures' in the draft agreement event of disruption of fuelupply are vague.
The BJP leaders also attacked the Samajwadi Party for using former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's name for giving credence to the nuclear deal.
They warned that the India-IAEA safeguards accord comes with perpetual, legally irrevocable obligations, which India cannot suspend or end, even if the supplier-states cut off supply of fuel and replacement parts.
The IAEA inspections in India will not be nominal but stringent and invasive, of the type applicable to non-nuclear-weapons states, they added.
They concluded by saying that the leadership of the Congress party and the Government was assisting the US in realizing its most important foreign policy objective vis-...-vis India in a manner that has undermined India's strategic autonomy while promising illusory energy security.