No rethink on n-deal: Bardhan

May 5th, 2008 - 2:33 pm ICT by admin  

By Manish Chand
New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) A day before the Left-UPA meeting on the India-US civil nuclear deal, Communist Party of India leader A.B. Bardhan has poured cold waters on any hope of a breakthrough, saying such meetings will not help as the Left will never change its opposition to the deal. “There is no possibility for a time-limit (to resolve the deadlock with the government). It is very convenient for Americans to have a time frame,” Bardhan told IANS here, indicating that the deal was headed for deep freezer under the present dispensation.

He was alluding to the “American pressure” on India to conclude the next steps - finalisation of IAEA pact and a change in guidelines by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - by May so that it can be ratified by the US Congress before it heads for summer recess August-end.

“If the government takes 5-6 months to finalize the 123 bilateral agreement and a few months to complete its pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it will be unrealistic for them to resolve all issues with us so quickly,” Bardhan said.

Bardhan reiterated the Left’s implacable opposition to the deal on grounds that it may draw India into a strategic alliance with the US and make New Delhi a “subordinate ally” of Washington.

“As far as the Left is concerned, there is no rethink on the nuclear deal,” Bardhan said.

“We will be in discussion with the government. But frankly speaking, such meetings are pointless as we have made up our mind,” he said, virtually sealing the fate of the deal that has become a sticking point between the government and the Left parties.

The last meeting between the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left parties, which prop up the ruling coalition from outside, on March 17 ended without a breakthrough with both sides blandly agreeing to continue their consultations.

“The government has told us that there are difficulties in sharing the text of the safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

According to rules, the IAEA has to first allow the government to share the text with us,” the CPI leader said.

“This time round, we will insist that the government show us the text of the IAEA agreement. Otherwise, how can we make up our mind,” Bardhan said.

The Left parties virtually hold veto over the stalled nuclear deal, that seeks to re-open the doors of global civil nuclear commerce with India after a hiatus of three decades, and have to approve the government’s pact with the IAEA before the deal can go forward.

Bardhan, however, kept a slight window open for compromise by saying that the Left noted approvingly the efforts of the government to repair its ties with Tehran by hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week.

But in the same breath, he clarified that much will depend on the fate of the $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline which is seen with suspicion by Washington as it thinks the pipeline will defeat its efforts to isolate Tehran over its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

“If the pipeline deal goes through, then we will know we have an independent foreign policy. If the pipeline deal does not go through, it would mean the American pressure has won,” said.

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