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Nuclear issue rocks Rajya Sabha
Oppn, Left join hands
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The BJP and the CPM today joined hands in the Rajya Sabha to demand a resolution disapproving some aspects of the India-US agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation.

The issue led to noisy scenes and the House had to be adjourned twice.

When the House assembled for the day, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj asked whether the government would move a resolution reflecting the sentiments of the House that goalposts on the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement signed on July 18 last year, should not be shifted.

Ms Swaraj was supported by CPM member Sitarm Yechury who also wanted the government to come out with a resolution. “We are not going beyond what you said. There should be a resolution, motion, declaration or sentiment,” he said.

The opportunity for raising the issue was afforded by the first question raised in the question hour by BJP member Maya Singh.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was present in the House declined to respond to demands that he intervene, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said that the agreement on the nuclear deal with the US was guided purely by national interest.

This did not convince BJP members and they continued to raise the demand for a resolution. The demand was countered by the treasury benches forcing Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to adjourn the House for 30 minutes till noon.

While BJP members said the government should not shy away from reflecting the sentiments of the House, Congress members countered the demand by pressing for a breach of privilege notice against Leader of the Opposition for “misleading” the House on “mole-in-the-PMO” issue.

When the House reassembled at noon, members from both ruling and Opposition benches were up on their feet. This led to noisy scenes and the House was adjourned a second time till 2 pm.

Yechury pointed out that the goalpost set out in the July 18 agreement was clearly being shifted with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspections prior to finalisation of the legislation by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Replying to Maya Singh’s question on whether differences between India and USA regarding halting of nuclear tests had been resolved, Anand Sharma said that India was only discussing civilian nuclear energy cooperation with the US.

The minister said there had been no talks on India’s strategic nuclear programme. He said that the separation of civilian and strategic nuclear facilities was decided in consultation with India’s scientists and nuclear establishment. He said the separation would be in a phased manner so that the strategic programme is not impacted or interrupted and India’s credible nuclear deterrent is maintained.

Clarifying the Congress-led UPA government’s position, the minister said that the guiding principle for the resumption of civilian nuclear energy cooperation with the US will remain in the framework of the July 18 Joint Statement and India’s separation plan.





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