Left picks holes in IAEA pact

July 11th, 2008 - 10:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) The Left parties Friday came out with a pointed critique of the IAEA safeguards agreement, saying it was “harmful” to India’s interests and questioned government claims of getting uninterrupted fuel supplies in return for placing nuclear reactors under permanent safeguards. The four Left parties that have withdrawn support to the government alleged that the pact will “risk the permanent shutdown of imported reactors in case it failed to toe the US line on foreign policy issues”.

“It is clear that the IAEA safeguards agreement does not address the fundamental problems in the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement,” the Left parties said in a statement.

The statement was signed by Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Prakash Karat, Communist Party of India leader A.B. Bardhan, Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas and T.J Chandrachoodan of Revolutionary Socialist Party.

“As a result of operationalising the Indo-US nuclear deal, India will place its costly imported reactors under perpetual IAEA safeguards and risk their permanent shutdown in case it fails to toe the US line on foreign policy issues,” the Left parties said.

“Thus, going ahead with the safeguards agreement will be harmful to India’s interests,” they said.

The Communist parties alleged that the text of the safeguards pact was hidden from them and the country because the government allegedly wanted to bind India’s entire civilian nuclear energy programme into IAEA safeguards in perpetuity.

The government had done so “without getting concrete assurances for uninterrupted fuel supply, right to build strategic reserves and right to take corrective steps in case fuel supplies are stopped”, they said, questioning the government’s claim about the pact addressing three of India’s key concerns.

“There are no concrete corrective measures in the main enforceable body of the agreement, only a vague mention of ‘corrective measures’ in the preamble,” they said, while alluding to the text of the safeguards agreement, which the government unveiled Thursday.

They said “the preamble merely ‘notes’ India’s intentions in these respects.” “IAEA has neither any obligation regarding fuel supplies or building strategic reserves nor does this noting India’s basis for this offer give India any additional rights through this agreement.

“Therefore to read into this clause either a guarantee for fuel supplies or IAEA’s support for building up a strategic reserve is misleading the people,” they contended.

They reminded the government of the “Tarapur blackmail” when the Tarapur nuclear reactor was denied fuel after India tested nuclear weapons in 1974 to underline perils of entering into a safeguards pact without concrete assurances of uninterrupted fuel supply.

“The key question therefore with respect to IAEA safeguards is: how to ensure that once India’s civilian reactors go under safeguards in perpetuity, the country would not be blackmailed by the withholding of nuclear fuel supplies, as the US did in Tarapur following Pokhran-I?

“Unless there are specific provisions in the operative clauses, a phrase such as ‘corrective measures’ inserted in the preamble cannot create either omnibus rights or obligations outside the text of the treaty,” they said.

The Left parties said that their key concern about India’s options in case NSG counties suspended fuel supply had not been addressed.

This, they said, “directly contradicts the assurance given by the prime minister” to the country. This amounts to “committing a deliberate fraud on the people”.

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