Government to share n-deal details with parliament

April 23rd, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The Manmohan Singh government Wednesday indicated its willingness to go ahead with the India-US civil nuclear deal, but assured the opposition that it will share the details of the final agreement with parliament before it goes to the US Congress for ratification. “We will come back to parliament to tell the members about the details of the deal before the India-US deal goes for the ratification to the US Congress,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told journalists attending an orientation course on foreign policy coverage at the Parliament Library.

“I feel it is a good deal,” Mukherjee said, but added that the process of building political consensus over the deal is far from over. The Left parties and the chief opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) among others have opposed the civil nuclear deal.

“As of now, there is no consensus on the deal. We are still trying to forge consensus,” he said.

Mukherjee said two key steps required to implement the deal - India’s safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a change in guidelines by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - are yet to be completed.

“The IAEA (agreement) is yet to be done. NSG is yet to be done,” he replied when asked about the current status of the deal that seeks to re-open doors of global civil nuclear commerce for India after a long break of nearly three decades.

The government has finalized the draft of its pact with the IAEA, but is waiting for a clearance from the Left parties.

“The Hyde Act is the US problem. We will go by our 123 (bilateral) agreement,” Mukherjee replied when asked about the Hyde Act, the enabling US legislation that India feels contains certain “objectionable” non-prescriptive provisions while paving the way for the resumption of civil nuclear trade between the two countries.

Mukherjee’s remarks acquire significance in the context of the meeting between the Left parties and the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition early next month. The minister’s remarks inidicated that the government has not given up yet on the contentious deal in the face of stiff opposition from its communist allies.

The Left parties are fiercely opposed to the deal as they suspect it will reduce India to athe status of a “subordinate ally” of the US’ strategic interests and have warned the government many a time recently to choose either survival in office or the deal with the US.

The government has assured the Left parties that it would not go ahead with the deal without their support.

The deal is racing against a tight timeline with the White House making it clear that if India’s IAEA pact and NSG clearance are not done by June, it will be difficult for the US Senate to ratify it before it goes into recess in August and later gets caught up in legislative pressures in the run-up to the November 2008 presidential elections.

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