UPA-Left panel on n-deal to meet again in April

March 17th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
(Second Lead)

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) The United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Left committee on the nuclear deal Monday decided to meet again in April as the communists insisted on more details of the draft of an agreement between India and the international nuclear watchdog. The 15-member panel headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee discussed the outcome of the negotiations between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the safeguards agreement - a necessary step to make the India-US nuclear deal operational - but it ended without any conclusion.

It did not take any decision on whether the government will proceed further on the India-US nuclear deal or not.

After the 80-minute meeting that started at 5.00 p.m., Mukherjee read out a statement: “The committee felt further discussions were needed.”

He said: “The outcome of the negotiations between India and the IAEA on the India-specific safeguards agreement was presented to the members of the committee.”

T.J. Chandrachoodan of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) said: “The Left is not happy. The government explanation on IAEA talks did not satisfy us. We want to see the agreement.”

The Left had given a green light to the government to hold talks with the UN atomic watchdog with the condition that the final draft of the pact would have to be approved by the UPA-Left panel.

The leaders of the four Left parties, which support the Manmohan Singh government from outside, were insisting on a look at the draft agreement between India and the IAEA but they did not get to see a copy of it.

According to the communist leaders who attended the crucial meeting, the government presented salient features of the draft pact but refused to share the document itself.

At the meeting, Mukherjee, supported by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan, told the Left that India being a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) faced many disadvantages and yet the government had secured, said the Left members.

“Mukherjee briefly presented the salient features of the draft agreement and then explained that since it is an international agreement, its contents are confidential and cannot be divulged without the consent of the contractual party (the board of governors of IAEA),” a Left leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“We are well aware of the confidentiality of international agreements but we want more details.”

All members were given a note at the beginning of the meet, outlining the advantages of the draft pact, “but we were not satisfied and sought more details so that we can study them later,” said the leader.

“The government genuinely tried to convince us but our apprehensions remain and we will not allow the deal to be operationalised.

“The government has agreed to share more details,” the leader added.

Another communist leader said: “Once the safeguards agreement is signed, the nuclear deal will be operational. We will not allow that until the government responds to our apprehensions about the nuclear deal.”

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