`UPA Government will not go beyond its commitment to Parliament,” says Pranab on nuke deal

September 4th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, Sept.4 (ANI): External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said that the UPA Government was not in a position to go beyond its commitment to Parliament on the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal, even as an atmosphere of uncertainty prevails over India getting a waiver for nuclear commerce from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
In an interview to All India Radio, Mukherjee said that there was no room for speculation and that the Government would wait for the outcome of the two-day deliberations before initiating the next steps to have the deal operationalised.
“We cannot go beyond our commitment to Parliament, commitment made by the Prime Minister and commitment made by ourselves. Therefore, whatever we have committed to it, it will have to achieve within that,” he said.
His comments come close on the heels of the controversial disclosures of the US position on the nuclear deal which gave ammunition to the BJP and the Left to attack the Government.
The minister said Government has seen the US draft for which amendments were sought. “The draft if it is agreed by the NSG is OK (for us),” he said.
Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar also said today that the US disclosures on the nuclear deal do not take away anything India wanted, and added that there was adequate protection for its strategic programme in the civil nuclear deal with Washington. He said India knew about the letter written by the US State Department in January to Tom Lantos, the then Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but was caught unawares by its release.
“But now they have released the document. A quick reading tells me that it actually doesn”t take away anything whatever we have been saying here in India before,” he told a TV channel.
Asked about the right to conduct nuclear tests, he said, “in terms of consequences, of course, when we decide to do that, we need to factor in possible consequences.”
Kakodkar indicated that there was adequate protection for India’’s strategic programme in the civil nuclear deal with the US.
“I also knew that this (US State Department letter to the Congress) has been asked to be kept classified. But I did not know that this will be released at this juncture,” Kakodkar said.
“The most important thing is that whatever programme we have started. We should be able to continue operation of these reactors and adequate protection for that purpose has been built into the 123 Agreement,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Indian Government unequivocally said it will be guided solely by the terms of the bilateral agreement on nuclear cooperation with the US.
“Government’’s attention has been drawn to news reports (about State Department’’s position). We do not as a matter of policy comment on internal correspondence between different branches of other governments,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.
The Government’’s response came after State Department’’s detailed response on the US position regarding its civil nuclear deal with India triggered an outcry among Opposition parties which accused it of misleading the government and the public.
“We will be guided solely by the terms of the bilateral agreement between India and the US, the India-specific safeguards agreement and clear waiver from the NSG which we hope to get in the meeting on September 4 and 5 ” in Vienna, Sarna said.
On the issue of testing, he said, “our position is well known. We have a unilateral moratorium and this is reflected in the Indo-US joint statement of July 18, 2005.
Government sources however said the document was an internal document of the US State Department and was not binding on India. India is bound only by the 123 Agreement, the sources said
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday said that the release of the letter sent by the Bush administration to Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 16 this year, by Rep. Howard L Berman, the present Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, completely exposes the Government of India and the fraudulent claims it has been making about the merits of the US-India nuclear deal.
In a joint statement issued here this morning, senior party leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie said: “It also fully vindicates the position taken by the BJP on this deal from day one. In this letter, the Bush administration has once again reiterated all that they have been saying on the nuclear deal since the beginning. We cannot blame the Americans for misleading India. It is clearly the Manmohan Singh Government which has deliberately and knowingly misled the people and the Parliament of India on this deal.”
They further went on to say that it was now crystal clear that India will lose the right to nuclear tests forever as a result of this agreement.
“There is also no doubt any more that this deal does not contain any binding commitments by Americans and others regarding fuel supplies and on transfer of technology which this government has been falsely proclaiming for the last three years. It is clear now that the deal will be terminated and all supplies will be stopped the moment India goes in for nuclear tests and all materials supplied to it will have to be returned,” they both said.
“These conditionalities have been staring us in the face all along. It is only the Manmohan Singh Government which has been concealing them. The Prime Minister has given assurances to Parliament which he knew were false. His ministers and officials have indulged in a farce which is unparalleled in our diplomatic and parliamentary history. Such a government, which has survived in office on purchased votes of MPs, has no business now to continue in office even for a day. With his falsehoods nailed once again, Manmohan Singh must resign here and now and fresh elections held,” they demanded.
Clarifying once again that the BJP’’s opposition to the deal was fundamentally different from that of the Left Parties, Sinha and Shourie said: “We are for friendly relations with the US, we are for strategic partnership with the US but we are against this unequal deal.”
“We also feel that the future of this deal should not be decided by a President in the US who will not be returned to office and a Prime Minister in India who may not be returned to office. The deal should be left to be renegotiated by future governments in both countries,” they concluded. (ANI)

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