Indo-US nuclear deal: War of Words

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New Delhi, Sep 4: With the US secret letter on Indo-US nuclear deal is out just hours ahead of crucial NSG meet, its now Indian govt's turn to clarify to its people whether they were misled or whether UPA government knew well before the content of the controversial secret letter. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting of the Congress Working Committee convened to discuss the India-US nuclear deal, he told that “we have the right to test, US has the right to react", which is factually correct.

But in explaining the deal, the PM was perhaps providing only the bare bones of a complex web of commitments that India and the US will be bound with once the 123 pact is passed into law. These include some hard-headed US assertions which can be politically unpalatable.

Government spokespersons have pointed to article 5(6) clause IV which talks of US and India jointly convening a group of 'friendly supplier countries' to pursue such measures that restore fuel supplies in case of a disruption. The clause is seen as a guarantee against a Tarapur-type situation occurring in the future.

The US state department"s response to House foreign affairs committee, revealed by the panel on September 2, makes its clear that the disruptions include only those due to 'no fault of India'. These would mean a trade war, market upheaval and failure to honour a contract. But what it does not include is the eventuality of India testing a nuclear device.

“US has the right to cease all nuclear cooperation with India immediately, including fuel supply, as well as to request right to return of any items transferred from the US, including fresh fuel," the letter notes, making it evident that it was only due to Indian sensitivities that the word 'testing' was not in the 123 agreement.

As US spokespersons have repeatedly asserted, testing will endanger the nuclear deal. The letter leaves little room for doubt by noting, “We believe the Indian government shares our understanding of this provision."

The rather simplistic view that Hyde Act is the concern of US and does not bind India also take a blow in the light of the Bush administration"s assertions that “we think the 123 pact is in full conformity with the Hyde Act". It notes that Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher has previously made clear that the deal was fully consistent with the legal requirements of the Act.

The Hyde Act has prescriptive conditions on testing which are not easy for India to accept at this stage, particularly when the government has argued its capacity to carry out a nuclear explosion was not being curbed in any way.

On dual use technology, the state department has said, “...as a framework agreement it does not compel any such transfers, and as a matter of policy the US does not transfer dual-use items in sensitive nuclear facilities."

Now, US does not transfer reprocessing and enrichment technologies and related dual use items to even its NATO allies and it has clarified that there is a reference in the 123 pact which states that transfers will be “subject to their respective applicable laws, regulations and licence policies".

On the safeguards that will apply to Indian civilian facilities, the reply makes it evident that these would not cease if the cooperation were to end. “...safeguards in some form — IAEA or other — must always be maintained with respect to all nuclear items in India subject to the agreement."

Government's Stand:

Rejecting all criticism by Opposition parties UPA government said that it didn't surrender India's right to conduct nuclear tests to United States. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said India reserved its right to nuclear tests under the 123 agreement. BJP charges are preposterous, the Congress leader said.

The government was forced to issue this clarification after details of the secret letter sent by the Bush administration to the US Congress were revealed. It was BJP who first attacked the government. BJP accused the government of 'misleading' the Parliament and the country.

BJP's attack on UPA govt and Prime Minister:

First BJP attacked the government, and then the Congress party's new found supporter, the Samajwadi party said it was in a dilemma over the new developments in the nuclear deal. ( Watch )

Reacting to the latest developments on the nuke deal, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said he is in a ' duvidha ' (dilemma) as the letter being reported by the media is saying something else and the Congress party's Pranab Mukherjee has said something. "I will study this properly before I can react", Mulayam said.

The Congress, however, got into the damage control mode in a jiffy, and sought to allay his fears and tried to reassure him that there was nothing in the latest development that is not already known.

Earlier, the BJP accused the Prime Minister of 'misleading' Parliament and the country on the nuclear deal issue.

"The Manmohan Singh government has no business to continue in office and should leave immediately," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told to media on Thursday, Sep 4. He also demanded to convene an immediate session of both the Houses of Parliament 'within the shortest possible time' to enable BJP to move a privilege motion against the Prime Minister.

Sinha said the government's statement in Parliament on the nuclear deal and what the US administration has told its lawmakers were 'diametrically opposed to each other'. The BJP leader said if there were so many differences on the interpretation of the deal right from the beginning, then various problems would crop up in the later stages.

"This is a sure recipe for spoiling the Indo-US bilateral relations," he said, adding that BJP's "worst fears" had come true. On the Hyde Act, Sinha said it is not only relevant but it is binding on the agreement. "It is binding on the country. We cannot escape the rigours of the Hyde Act," he said.

The correspondence, which was made public by the US, vindicate BJP's stand, he said, adding "the position of India and US is poles apart"

BJP leader Arun Shourie said "the lies of the government and the Prime Minister in person have been nailed. Shourie said there is a huge difference between what the government here is saying and what the United States administration is saying.

He also claimed that the United States has clearly said that if India conducts nuclear tests, it will terminate the agreement. "Not only that but they have said they can also terminate the agreement on other grounds. Testing is just one of the items," he said.

India has so far been claiming that the deal would not constrain the country's right to nuclear tests and would provide an uninterrupted supply of fuel to India's nuclear reactors. In August 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told Parliament, “The agreement does not in any way affect India's right to undertake future nuclear tests, if it is necessary."


Left attacks PM on nuke deal

CPM leader Prakash Karat said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should quit for 'lying to people and Parliament' on the nature of the nuclear agreement with the US. "It is abundantly clear that all the assurances regarding India's right to conduct tests, supply of fuel in perpetuity and chance of getting sensitive technology for reprocessing and enrichment were baseless," the party's Central Secretariat said in a statement.

It said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance to Parliament on the issue "had no legal basis. Prime Minister willingly or otherwise has misled the Parliament."

CPI said that the 26-page letter made public in US was just a 'bye-product of Hyde Act'. The Left accused the government of 'surrendering India's nuclear autonomu and also it has to 'follow whatever the US administration dictates'. While there was no assurance on fuel supply in perpetuity, "what is more shocking is the fact that the US has acquired the right to force India to abandon its future R &D projects."

"With these revelations and the ongoing debate in NSG for imposing further restrictions on India, it is in the interest of the country that the Manmohan Singh government abandons the process of operationalising the 123 agreement," the CPI said.

Samajwadi Party's dilemma

Samajwadi Party, the Congress-led UPS's new found supporter, said it was in a dilemma over the new developments in the nuclear deal. Reacting to the latest developments on the nuke deal, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said he is in a 'duvidha' (dilemma) as the letter being reported by the media is saying something else and the Congress party's Pranab Mukherjee has said something. "I will study this properly before I can react", Mulayam said.

The Congress, however, got into the damage control mode and sought to allay his fears and tried to reassure him that there was nothing in the latest development that is not already known.

Whatever be the blame games, explanations, end results, real victims are the people of India who believe nuclear deal will bring continous power supply to them. Also its now wait and watch situation for India as the crucial NSG meet is going on in Vienna regarding the waiver issue. As per the report still some among the member countries of Nuclear Suppliers Group like New Zealand and Austria are not convinced by the revised draft submitted by the US government.

 

OneIndia News 

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