IAEA pact waiting for political call: Saran

July 3rd, 2008 - 12:16 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Putting speculation at rest, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran Wednesday said Manmohan Singh will go to Japan to attend the G-8 summit July 7 and underlined that the IAEA safeguards pact was ready for signing, but is “waiting for a political go-ahead”. “We have more or less finalised the safeguards agreement but we really have to wait for a political direction for us to go back to the IAEA and finalise it,” Saran told CNN-IBN news channel in an exclusive interview.

“We have done a considerable amount of work as far as the safeguards are concerned and it will not take too much time to finalise the agreement once the political go-ahead is given,” stressed Saran, the prime minister’s special envoy on the India-US nuclear deal and on climate change.

Manmohan Singh will meet US President George W. Bush and leaders of the influential Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nations on the sidelines of the G-8 summit.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Prakash Karat has raised an issue over Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit to Japan, saying that if the prime minister attends the G-8 summit it will be tantamount to operationalising the nuclear deal that may force the Left to withdraw its support to the ruling coalition.

Saran said he was optimistic of the deal winning a waiver from the 45-nation NSG and expressed the hope that if the IAEA pact is done quickly, it will be possible to get the deal through the US Congress before the end of the Bush administration.

Seeking to allay anxieties about time running out for the deal, Saran said: “There is no calendar date as such. But of course the longer it takes to finalise this agreement the greater the level of political uncertainty.”

“But let me say that if we are able to get the safeguards agreement finalised with the IAEA and are able to quickly go… then on our behalf our friends in the US, UK, Russia and France take up the exemption for India in the NSG.”

“If that, then, is expeditiously achieved, perhaps we may still be able to get through the US Congress before the end of this administration,” he added.

Saran also stressed that there is “a positive sentiment” in the NSG in favour of India, but tactfully chose not to comment on what will be China’s stand in the nuclear grouping.

“How this will translate into China’s position and the NSG, we will have to wait and see. But as I said the bottomline is that I am quite optimistic as far as the NSG is concerned.”

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