Mukherjee ’sets record straight’, says IAEA text confidential

July 8th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Refuting the Left’s allegation that the government violated its commitment to share the IAEA safeguards pact text with them, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday clarified it was a confidential record and the communists should have joined the government to get access to it. In a letter to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Mukherjee said: “You would also recall that when some members of the (UPA-Left nuclear) committee asked for the full text (of the draft of the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency), I had pointed out that they would have to join the government in order to have access to the text.”

The minister’s reply letter was dispatched to Karat hours after the Communist leader wrote to him announcing the Left parties’ withdrawal of support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Mukherjee also explained that the text was a “privileged document” and that “it could not be shared with a third party without going through the laid down procedures of the IAEA”.

“It was for this purpose, in fact, that the confidential briefing text summarising the contents of the agreement was circulated to all committee members,” he pointed out.

Mukherjee, the head of the 15-member UPA-Left nuclear committee, said his explanation was to “set the records straight”.

In their letter addressed to Mukherjee, the leaders of the four Left parties, including Karat, alleged that the “outcome of the talks”, that is the text of the safeguards agreement negotiated with the IAEA secretariat, was not made available to the committee.

According to Mukherjee, at the seventh, eighth and ninth meetings of the committee, the UPA had presented the outcome of the negotiations with the IAEA.

“As far as the exact text of the safeguards agreement is concerned, you would recall that at the seventh meeting in which the contours of the safeguards agreement were discussed for the first time, I had pointed out that the text was a privileged document held in confidence between the government of India and the IAEA Secretariat.”

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