The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Navtej Sarna said: "The Indo-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation will be guided only by the 123 agreement which clearly spells out the respective rights and obligations of the two countries. The Governments of India and the United States have agreed upon the text of the agreement. It is a public document" his statement comes in the wake of American President George W Bush's contention that the assured fuel supplies to India are "not legally binding".
Bush in a statement to US Congress said: "In Article 5 (6), the Agreement records certain political commitments concerning reliable supply of nuclear fuel given to India. The Agreement does not, however, transform these political commitments into legal binding commitments because the agreement, like other US agreements of this type, is intended as a framework agreement."
However, India asserted that once this inter-governmental agreement comes into force, the agreement would become a legal document in accordance with well-recognised principles of international law and the Law of Treaties".
"India-US civil nuclear cooperation will be carried out on the basis of respective rights and obligations of the two sides as contained in the agreement. By doing so, the government will ensure that India's rights are fully protected," Sarna said.
According to official sources, the observation made by Bush in his determination to the US Congress amounts to interpretation of the 123 agreement "differently". The 123 agreement clearly specifies the responsibility of the US to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies even if it terminates its own cooperation with India due to some reason.
Bush's statement came close on the heels of an alleged secret letter by the US State Department letter in which it has made it clear that America will stop fuel supplies and other nuclear cooperation if India conducts a nuclear test.
New Delhi is expected to take up the matter with Washington to seek clarity on this issue, which have the potential of creating uncertainty over the fuel supplies, the sources said.
Bush has invited Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh to Washington on September 25 when both sides hope to sign the 123 Agreement, provided it has been approved by the current U.S. Congressional session, which concludes on September 26. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday demanded a clarification from the Government on the alleged holding back of information regarding the India-US nuclear deal.
Speaking to reporters in Bangalore where the party's national convention is being held, senior leader of BJP Jaswant Singh said Bush''s communication to the US Congress has confirmed the concerns of the party that the nuclear deal will hurt the very sovereignty of the country.