Scientists against going ahead with IAEA pact, n-deal

June 24th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial meeting between the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its communist allies over the India-US nuclear deal, top nuclear scientists Tuesday asked the government not to go ahead with the IAEA agreement before more debate on it. In a joint statement, P.K. Iyengar, former chairman of Atomic Enegry Commission (AEC), A. Gopalakrishnan, former head of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, and A.N. Prasad, former director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), said there was a “great deal of disquiet” among the scientific community at large over the nuclear deal.

“We are strongly of the opinion that the government should not proceed to seek IAEA Board approval for the current draft safeguards agreement, until its implications are debated more fully within the country, or at least within the UPA-Left Committee,” they said.

They suggested that India’s agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should also be discussed with a group of experts who are not party to the IAEA negotiations.

They voiced their disapproval of the manner in which the government at “this critical juncture” was trying to rush the safeguards agreement to the IAEA “without giving its details to the UPA-Left committee created specifically for a joint evaluation of the deal”.

The scientists’ insistence on more debate buttresses the position of the Left parties that are virulently opposing the nuclear deal as they suspect that the deal would shrink India’s independent space in foreign affairs.

The government has launched what appears to be one last determined effort to bring its allies on board to push the nuclear deal, aimed at re-opening doors of global civil nuclear commerce for India after a gap of three decades.

With time running out for the remaining steps required to consummate the nuclear deal that includes the IAEA pact, a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the ratification of the 123 agreement by the US Congress, the government is trying to hammer out a compromise formula with the recalcitrant Left to save the deal.

The Left parties have, however, refused to dilute their opposition to the deal and are likely to reiterate their stand in the Left-UPA meeting Wednesday.

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