Indo-US N-deal unlikely under Bush regime

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New Delhi, May 6: The UPA-Left panel today failed to narrow down their differences on the Indo-US nuclear deal with the Left seeking more clarifications on the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. But, it seems highly unlikely that the Indo-US Nuclear deal will be signed under Bush regime. Some of the queries of the Left Parties are: Whether India will have the right to withdraw its facilities from under safeguards unilaterally if need be? In the absence of a tribunal how can India seek recourse if there is a dispute? And whether the IAEA can ensure uninterrupted fuel supply?

UPA will clarify these major points in the the next meeting on May 28. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told mediapersons after a two-hour-long meeting, the eighth in the series, that in-depth discussions were held on the draft of the India-specific agreement with the IAEA.

He said the government would provide further clarifications, sought by the Left parties today, within the next few days.

The meeting was attended by all the members of the 15-member panel, except Mr Prithviraj Chavan, Miniser of State in the Prime Minisiter's Office.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Shipping Minister T R Baalu, CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat and CPI leader A B Bardhan were among those who attended the meeting held at the official residence of Mr Mukherjee.

"The focus of today's meeting was on IAEA safeguards. We have also sought clarifications on whether India would get uninterrupted supply of enriched uranium to run its nuclear plants and be permitted to build a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel," Mr Bardhan told UNI after the meeting.

Mr Bardhan said the government did not show the full text of the agreement as it is said to be confidential in nature. However, the Left members were shown a few important pages of the draft agreement.

The government, however, assured the Left parties that it would provide "full paraphrase (simplification of a technical paper for lay readers) and explanations" very soon so that it could be discussed at the next meeting.

Mr Bardhan agreed that the logjam continued with both the sides sticking to their respective positions.

At the last meeting of the panel on March 17 also, the UPA and the Left leaders discussed the draft of the Safeguards agreement with the IAEA. After negotiating the safeguards agreement with IAEA, the government has to approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group for seeking exemptions in the supply of enriched uranium.

It is only after these two steps that the nuke deal will go to the US Congress for ratification before it can be operationalised.


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