Left denies Manmohan government go-ahead on IAEA pact (Lead)

May 6th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The Indian government’s much sought after nuclear deal with the US remained in limbo after its Left allies Tuesday refused to give it the green signal to go the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to finalise an India-specific safeguards agreement. In a two-hour-long meeting of a committee of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left parties at External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s residence, the communists reiterated their reservations over the continuity of the fuel supply and over some clauses of the Hyde Act of the US and the 123 agreement relating to the India-US nuclear deal, saying they would damage India’s interests.

At the meeting which was attended by 14 of its 15 members, there was in-depth discussion on the safeguards agreement India is planning to sign with the UN atomic energy watchdog - a necessary step in making the India-US civil nuclear deal operational.

“The Left parties have sought further clarifications on the safeguarda agreement, which will be given to them in the next few days,” Mukherjee told reporters.

“The committee will meet again on May 28,” he said.

The four Left parties including the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that are propping up the UPA government have asked it not to go ahead with signing the safeguards agreement with IAEA without its go-ahead.

According to informed sources with access to the meeting, the communist leaders were adamant on their stand on the Hyde Act, saying it would adversely affect India’s indigenous nuclear programme and the independence of foreign policy.

The sources also said the clauses in the safeguards agreement have been finalised but are subject to negotiations.

“During the negotiations, changes can be made in the agreement in the present scenario but once it goes to the Board of Governors, amendments cannot be made,” a Left leader who attended the meeting said on condition of anonymity.

The government explained to the communist leaders there would not be any problem in getting the fuel supply, as “once the door (for global civil nuclear commerce) is open, we can get it from France, Russia and other countries”, according to the Left leader.

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