Government decided to approach IAEA Tuesday: Sibal

July 10th, 2008 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) Stung by attack from its estranged communist allies and the opposition, the government Thursday asserted it decided to approach the IAEA for circulation of the text of the safeguards pact Tuesday only after the Left parties formally decided to withdraw their support. The government also stressed that asking the IAEA to circulate the text does not involve “any betrayal or deceit”, as alleged by the opposition, and said it will seek a trust vote before the ratification by the IAEA Board of Governors.

The IAEA is expected to meet July 28 to consider the India-specific safeguards pact that accommodates New Delhi’s three concerns - uninterrupted fuel supplies, the right to build strategic reserve of fuel and corrective action in case of disruption of supply of fuel.

“It was decided to ask the IAEA secretariat to circulate the draft of the India-specific safeguards pact to the IAEA Board Tuesday afternoon only after the Left formally decided to withdraw support to the government,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.

“It’s up to the board to decide on its approval now. Normally, it takes four weeks after the circulation of the text,” he said. A trust vote will be sought before the decision by the IAEA Board, Sibal said.

Sibal also clarified that the government could not share the text with the Left parties or make it public earlier because it was a restricted document.

“But after the prime minister gave a go-ahead to the department of atomic energy Tuesday to approach the IAEA Secretariat for circulating the text, we decided to make it public today,” Sibal said.

He repudiated the Left’s contention that the government had reneged on its promise of not approaching the IAEA Board for approval before winning the trust vote, saying circulating the text should not be construed to mean the ratification of the pact.

“It’s just a procedure,” he said.

“Certainly, the Left can’t take umbrage. They are no longer supporting the government. Their objections make no sense after they withdrew support,” Sibal stressed.

“We are not committing the country to anything. We have committed the government to the right course which is in national interest,” he said while vigorously batting for the India-US nuclear deal.

“We believe we have a majority in the House and we will prove it,” Sibal asserted.

While the Communists have accused the government of “betrayal,” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused it of “midnight deceit” by approaching the IAEA late Wednesday night.

“When it’s darkness here (in India), it’s daylight in Vienna,” Sibal said when asked about the opposition’s charges.

CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters earlier: “It (the government’s move to approach the IAEA) is shocking. It is a betrayal to not just the Left parties but to the country and the people. It is a sad state of affairs. The prime minister has to answer.”

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “The UPA has cheated the nation once again. They have lost majority as the Left has withdrawn support. It is a constitutional mandate that to take the deal further they should go for a trust vote.”

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