CPI-M rakes up Hyde Act, attacks safeguards pact

August 2nd, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) A day after the IAEA approved the India-specific safeguards agreement, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Saturday raked up the Hyde Act, saying that the government’s claims of uninterrupted fuel supply were not borne by the safeguards pact. The CPI-M also accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of “belying” the assurance it gave to parliament that India’s civilian nuclear facilities would be put under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards only under the strictly reciprocal condition of uninterrupted fuel supply guarantees.

“Neither does the 123 agreement with the US provide any such fuel supply guarantee nor can the IAEA ensure uninterrupted fuel supply since it is a monitoring agency,” the CPI-M politburo said in a statement here Saturday.

“Thus, the provisions of the Hyde Act and not the assurances made by the Indian prime minister in parliament are shaping the course of the Indo-US nuclear deal through the various stages,” the party contended.

The Hyde Act, the enabling US legislation that was passed by the US Congress in 2006, provided an exemption for the US administration to resume nuclear commerce with India but contained several extraneous provisions that are seen by some as attempts to influence India’s foreign policy decisions.

Saying that the safeguards agreement with India endorsed by the IAEA Board of Governors Friday will bring 14 Indian civilian nuclear facilities under perpetual IAEA safeguards from 2009, the CPI-M questioned the government’s claim about its right to take “corrective action” in the event of disruption of foreign-sourced fuel.

“Therefore, the safeguards agreement can only be terminated under the standard termination conditions contained in Articles 29 and 32 of the agreement, implying that nuclear facilities can be withdrawn from safeguards only after these facilities are no longer usable for any nuclear activity,” the statement said.

The CPI-M invoked the statement made by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to buttress its contention that the safeguards pact does not guarantee India the right to take “corrective action”.

“As with other safeguards agreements between the agency and member states, the (Indian) agreement is of indefinite duration,” ElBaradei had said at the IAEA board’ meeting in Vienna.

“There are no conditions for the discontinuation of safeguards other than those provided by the safeguards agreement itself. The termination provisions contained in the agreement are the same as for other 66-type agreements,” Baradei had said.

The CPI-M, however, does not mention a portion of ElBaradei’s speech in which he said the safeguards pact meets the agency’s needs as well as those of India.

The CPI-M, which leads the four-party Left combine, withdrew support to the government last month on account of its contentious decision to go ahead with the IAEA safeguards pact and the nuclear deal.

The government, however, managed to win the trust vote July 22 and has proceeded with the next stages required to complete the nuclear deal.

The CPI-M’s critique of the safeguards pact flows from its virulent opposition to the nuclear deal which it suspects will reduce India to a pawn of US strategic interests.

Last month, the Left parties had come out with a pointed critique of the IAEA safeguards agreement after it was unveiled, saying it was “harmful” to India’s interests and questioned government claims of getting uninterrupted fuel supplies in return for placing nuclear reactors under permanent safeguards.

The four Left parties had alleged that the pact will “risk the permanent shutdown of imported reactors in case it failed to toe the US line on foreign policy issues”.

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