N-Curbs on India

Saturday, July 29, 2006 Vishaal 0 Comments

President George W. Bush and India's Prime Min...Image via Wikipedia
The US House of Representatives has approved the Indo-US nuclear deal by an overwhelming majority, but there are reservations about the bill in India, particularly among the CPI(M) and other Left parties, which feel that it contains “some major departures” from the N-deal signed by the US President, Mr George Bush and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. Indeed, the bill seeks to subject India’s foreign policy to US strategic requirements. It also seeks to monitor India’s nuclear development through inspections by the US and the IAEA. Many, including the Left, had objected to the inclusion of the monitoring clause in the Indo-US N-deal of July 18, 2005. Dr Manmohan Singh argued that there was no departure from the country’s stated position on the nuclear policy, and if there was any, he would inform the Parliament. But now it appears that diplomatic efforts to amend this clause have not succeeded.

Yet another clause which is the major source of concern is that India cannot approach other sources in the Nuclear Suppliers Group if the US did not supply it N-fuel. The US has assignment to itself the right to influence others to stop fuel supply. Earlier India was free to approach any other country, and in fact a couple of months back Russia had agreed to supply fuel for Tarapur reactor. The bill also makes it clear that relaxation of non-proliferation barriers is only with respect to nuclear fuel and reactors, but the sanctions on fuel reprocessing, enrichment and production of heavy water for equipment and technologies remain.

The supporters of the Indo-US nuclear deal do not find any fault with these clauses and argue that the Bush administration has to include these conditions only for the sake of convincing the members of the houses and getting their support. But what is the guarantee that the US will not impose these conditions once India asserts its right or violates any of these conditions? If Mr Bush is bound by US Congress on how to proceed with the Indo-US deal, what is the harm in placing these facts on the table of Parliament by the government of India for defining the parameters and letting nuclear development remain in our hands?

Let the Parliament set the parameters, come out with the guidelines and define the limits to which it can proceed in this regard. It is amazing the Congress leadership and the UPA government are scared of the Left parties’ move to bring a “Sense of Parliament” resolution in Parliament. No doubt on earlier occasions the Prime Minister had spoken on it before the Parliament. But the latest move would make a difference. Earlier the government had informed the members and country through the Parliament. But this time it would seek its mandate.

It is worth recalling that during his visit to Russia to participate in the G8 meeting, the Prime Minister had conveyed his apprehensions to Mr Bush. If at all there are some anomalies which are detrimental to the interest of the country, it is not too late to pull out of the deal at this stage as the final agreement would take shape only after the legislation is approved by the US Congress. The government of India must keep up the pressure on US.

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