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Why Left wants India to walk away from N-deal

September 17, 2008 13:16 IST

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The Left parties on Wednesday said that the documents submitted to the US Congress by US President George Bush [Images] along with the Presidential Determination on the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation clearly violates the crucial commitments made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] in Parliament.

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, in a statement, said the time had come for India to repudiate the 123 agreement, which is against the national interest.

According to the CPI-M, the government had no option, as the argument that India has a different interpretation of the 123 Agreement was meaningless.

The statement said that the Left had been repeatedly pointing out the provisions of the 123 Agreement, which were inimical to India's interests and exposed the hollowness of the claims made by the prime minister in Parliament.

In the statement, released to the media, the CPI-M makes the following references to substantiate its stand:

Fuel Supply Assurance and IAEA Safeguards:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made a solemn commitment in Parliament on March 7, 2006, that India would place its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards in perpetuity only on the basis of strict reciprocity vis-a-vis the US guaranteeing uninterrupted fuel supply in perpetuity. In case the US defaults on its fuel supply agreement (as it did in Tarapur), it would ensure that other members of the NSG would take over its obligations.

However, in a signed covering note to the Presidential Determination (President's Transmittal of Text to Congress) George Bush has made it clear that the fuel supply assurance in the 123 Agreement is not legally binding. It states:

"In Article 5(6) the Agreement records certain political commitments concerning reliable supply of nuclear fuel given to India in March 2006. The text of the Agreement does not, however, transform these political commitments into legally binding commitments because the Agreement, like other US agreements of its type, is intended as a framework agreement."

According to CPI-M, this categorical denial of any legally binding fuel supply assurance in the 123 agreement by the US President is accompanied by a specific observation contained in the Report Pursuant to Section 104(c) of Hyde Act regarding Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India accompanying the Presidential Determination, which states:

"Once a facility is listed in the Annex, safeguards will continue indefinitely unless 'India and the Agency have jointly determined that the facility is no longer usable for any nuclear activity relevant from the point of view of safeguards'. Thus the facilities and materials subject to safeguards are under safeguards in perpetuity in accordance with IAEA standards, principles, and practices."

This clearly shows that India can never withdraw its civilian nuclear facilities from IAEA safeguards unilaterally, even the indigenously built reactors, in the event of a disruption of fuel supply or if the 123 Agreement is itself terminated. Also, the US is under no obligation to help India build up adequate fuel reserves for life time operations of the reactors.

Co-operation in civilian nuclear technology:
The prime minister in a suo moto statement to Parliament on July 29, 2006 had stated:

"We committed ourselves to separating the civilian and strategic programme. However this was to be conditional upon, and reciprocal to, the United States fulfilling its side of the understanding. Steps to be taken by India would be conditional upon and contingent on action taken by the United States. Before voluntarily placing our civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted."

However, the signed covering note to the Presidential Determination clearly states:

"It (the 123 Agreement) does not permit transfers of any restricted data. Sensitive nuclear technology, heavy-water production technology and production facilities, sensitive nuclear facilities, and major critical components of such facilities may not be transferred under the Agreement unless the Agreement is amended."

This is also reiterated in the Report Pursuant to Section 104(c) of Hyde Act. Clearly, India will not have access to the full fuel cycle and all sensitive technologies are denied under the above.

Consent to Reprocess:
The Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement accompanying the Presidential Determination states:

"Subsequent to India's March 2006 separation plan, the Indian government decided to pursue development of a new civil facility dedicated to reprocessing material under safeguards. Development of this facility (and agreement with the United States on arrangements and procedures related thereto) will be required to bring into effect the 'programmatic consent' in Article 6 of the Agreement."

Therefore, the supposed consent for India's right to reprocess spent fuel contained in the 123 Agreement is only a 'programmatic consent' as per the US. This also belies the claims made by the government in this regard.

Extraneous Issues:
The prime minister had categorically stated that tying any extraneous issues with civil nuclear cooperation will not be accepted to India. It is clear from the documents accompanying the Presidential Determination that extraneous issues have been coupled with the nuclear deal, which have also been accepted by India.

The Report Pursuant to Section 104(c) of Hyde Act approvingly talks about India aligning with the US on the Iran question both in the IAEA and the UN and that India 'maintained a strong public line of support for P5+1 and US diplomatic efforts to resolve international concerns with Iran's nuclear programme'.

This is contradictory to the position stated earlier that India supports the right of Iran to the full nuclear fuel cycle. The issue of nuclear weapons and the right to enrichment are two different issues and India has always maintained a public distinction between the two. However, with the External Affairs Minister's statement, India has formally changed its position and opposed Iran's fuel enrichment, a right which Iran has under Article IV of the NPT.

Missile Technology Control Regime:
India has already pledged its unilateral adherence to the MTCR regime of which it is not a part. According to the Report Pursuant to Section 104(c) of Hyde Act mentions that India has written a letter stating its 'adherence to the MTCR and its annex in a letter dated September, 9, 2008, to Jacques Audibert, the MTCR Point of Contact in Paris'.

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