M A I N   N E W S

Go public on halting N-deal, Left tells govt
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
Ahead of the possible UPA-Left meet on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Left today asked the Manmohan Singh government to publically announce that they were going to pause the operationalisation of the 123 agreement.

“The talks to set up a mechanism to address the concerns expressed by the Left will be fruitless unless the government gives a commitment that they will not operationalise the nuclear deal,” said CPI national Secretary D. Raja after a meeting of four Left parties.

However, indications are there that the government has agreed to press the pause button for the time being.

The demand of a public statement to this regard is likely to complicate the issue.

Party sources said the government had indicated that it would not go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss the India-specific safeguards for the time being.

Sources indicated that the mechanism could come up before the November meeting of the IAEA.

“The crisis blows over for next three months. Let us see what happens after that,” said a Left party leader.

“The government decision may formally be told to us at the meeting which is likely tomorrow,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said. He maintained that the government should not proceed with operationalising the agreement till the mechanism or a committee came out with its findings.

The Congress leaders who have held discussions with the four Left parties in the past two days discussed the modalities of the mechanism with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi today.

The ruling UPA and Left allies are expected to meet tomorrow to decide on securing the mechanism. The Left leaders insist that the committee should comprise leaders from both sides.

While the CPM, the CPI and the Forward Bloc have indicated that they will have representatives on the committee, the smaller Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) has not made its stand clear on the issue.

Sources said today’s Left meeting was also an effort to settle the differences among the Left allies over their stance on the nuclear deal.

Left sources indicated that the committee might be headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who along with defence minister A.K. Antony and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was talking to Left leaders.

Asked whether there should be a time-frame for the mechanism to submit its findings, Yechury answered in the affirmative.

Earlier, the government said in the Lok Sabha that private sector could not participate in nuclear power generation under the existing Atomic Energy Act but a review was required in view of the changing scenario.

The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 allows nuclear power generation only by a central government company, minister of state in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan said during the question hour.

On manufacture of equipment and components, he said no policy change was needed.

In fact, the government has encouraged and worked with both public and private companies in this regard, he added.

It was only in nuclear power generation that no decision had been taken with regard to private sector’s participation, he said.

The existing Act was last repealed in 1962 and since then various developments had taken place in the area, the minister added.



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