India bound only by 123: Pranab Mukherjee

October 11th, 2008 - 12:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Oct 11 (IANS) India has declared that it is bound by only the bilateral 123 Agreement sealing its civil nuclear deal with the US and expressed confidence that Washington too will implement it “in good faith” under international law.”The Agreement reflects a careful balance of rights and obligations for both parties, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a press conference here Friday after signing the agreement with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“We intend to implement this Agreement in good faith and in accordance with the principles of international law and I am confident that the US will also do the same,” he said, asserting “its provisions are now legally binding on both sides once the Agreement enters into force”.

Asked about the extent to which the agreement rested on interpretation and trust, Mukherjee said: “We are bound by the agreed text of the 123 Agreement, which is negotiated on the basis of the joint statements” of President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2005 and March 2006.

“It’s not a merely a question of interpretation. It’s a question of agreed text,” said Mukherjee, adding that his statement that India intended to implement the agreement “in good faith clearly implies we trust each other”.

Asked if India was satisfied by Bush’s fuel supply assurances, he said the text of the 123 Agreement provides for fuel assurances and this had been reiterated by the president’s signing statement accompanying his assent to the US enabling law.

In reply to another question whether Mukherjee’s assertion regarding 123 implied a rejection of the US Congress’s approval resolution, which had a couple of riders regarding fuel supplies, the Indian minister reiterated: “We are bound by the agreement negotiated by two sovereign countries, and this is 123.”

As he had mentioned at the signing ceremony, Mukherjee said: “This is an agreement about civil nuclear cooperation and reflects a careful balance of rights and obligations on both sides, which we’ll comply with.”

With his statement the minister sought to rest the furore caused by the Congressional conditions and Bush’s controversial message to the legislature that the nuclear fuel supply assurances in the 123 agreement were “political commitments” and not “legally binding”.

Underlining the global nature of the nuclear deal, Mukherjee noted the signing of the agreement has also been preceded by the “unanimous approval” by the International Atomic Energy Agency and “the consensus decision” of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to allow nuclear trade with India.

Describing it as a “historic occasion”, Mukherjee said: “It marks the beginning of resumption of India’s civil nuclear cooperation and trade with the US and with the wider international community.

“The increased share of nuclear energy in our energy mix will make a major positive contribution to our sustainable development and to meeting our objective of eradicating poverty,” he said.

“We, therefore, see this as a critical development for our economic growth and development. The Agreement is also important for global energy security as well as a contribution to global efforts to meet the challenge of climate change,” Mukherjee added.

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