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UPA-Left talks on N-deal deferred
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
The UPA government today decided to postpone a meeting with the Left parties scheduled for May 28 to secure its consent to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to sign an agreement.

This accord is meant to pave the way for India to approach the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), including the USA, Russia, China, France and a host of other countries for the purchase of uranium for its nuclear power plants.

The government had decided to hold the UPA-Left committee meeting to thrash out this issue on May 28. But today external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here that because of the absence of some members of the committee the meeting stood postponed for sometime early June.

Sources, however, attributed this to the recent electoral reverses the Congress faced in Karnataka, after which the government did not comfortable to confront Left leaders. That is being said as the real reason for postponing this meeting.

The Left leaders are opposed to the Indo-US nuclear accord and feel that the signing of this agreement will only facilitate the early passage in the US Congress of the 123 treaty between India and the US.

The Board of Governors of the IAEA is scheduled to meet in Vienna in the earlier part of June and the government wanted Left clearance before that to beat the IAEA deadline. Now it seems it is certain to miss that deadline.

Curiously, once July passes, the Left may soften its stand on the whole issue considerably. There were indication that it may even allow the government to go through the necessary procedural formalities to approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

In the Left estimate, the Bush administration would become a lame duck government after July and therefore not in a position to secure the passage of the 123 agreement from the US Congress.

Left leaders indicated to The Tribune that they were not opposed to India going in for nuclear energy per se and that their objection was limited to the Indo-US nuclear accord.

CPI national secretary D. Raja said, “Why did India not sign an accord with Russia when he went there?” Russia had offered to sign an agreement to supply additional uranium fuel for four more nuclear power reactors at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia in November last year. “Last minute they (India) pulled out of that agreement. Their priority is only the Indo-US nuclear deal and the 123 agreement,” said Raja, adding same was the case with the French offer on Kalpakkam power plant also in Tamil Nadu.

Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) general secretary Abani Roy was more candid. He said, “At the moment they want to rush to the IAEA only to push through the 123 agreement. What is the hurry? Let us wait till July. After that Bush administration will be lame duck. Then we will see.”



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