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Left strikes down 123 agreement
Asks UPA govt not to proceed further
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
In a major blow to the Congress-led coalition, the Left parties today rejected the 123 agreement on the Indo-US nuclear cooperation and asked the Manmohan Singh government “not to proceed further in operationalising it”. “The Left parties are unable to accept the agreement,” Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary said after the meeting of the four Left parties, which support the UPA government at the Centre.

“The Left calls upon the government not to proceed further with the operationalising of the agreement,” he said.

Karat said, “There has to be a review of the strategic aspects of the Indo-US relations in Parliament. The Left parties will press for a constitutional amendment for bringing international treaties and certain bilateral agreements for approval in Parliament.”

CPM general secretary said there are a number of issues on which the 123 agreement “falls short” of what the Prime Minister had assured in Parliament.

“While the Indian commitments are binding and in perpetuity, some of the commitments that the US has made are either ambiguous or are ones that can be terminated at a future date,” he said.

Karat said, “However, much the two sides have sought by skillful drafting to avoid the implications of the Hyde Act, it is a ‘national law’ which is there, at present, and will be there, in the future.”

Asked whether the Left parties have decided on the strategy to be adopted in the monsoon session of Parliament, beginning later this week, as the UNPA or the Third Front plans to oppose the agreement in the House and the BJP has demanded its reference to the joint parliamentary committee, the CPM leader said “we have not worked out our strategy in parliament so far. The Left MPs would decide on that”.

He, however, said, “The message is clear that parties outside the UPA are not in favour of this agreement and the government should not proceed with it.”

The CPM leader said the agreement does not cover the entire nuclear fuel cycle as assured by the Prime Minister in Parliament. “The statement of intent in the agreement that a suitable amendment to enable this access may be considered in the future has little or no operative value,” he said.

Karat said fast-breeder reactor under this agreement would be treated as part of the fuel cycle and any technology required for this would also come under the dual-use technology sanctions.

“India’s attempt to build a three-phase self-reliant nuclear power programme powered ultimately by thorium would have to be developed under conditions of isolation and existing technology sanctions,” he said.

On the assurance that India would accept safeguards in perpetuity only in exchange for the guarantee of uninterrupted fuel supply, Karat said “while the acceptance on India’s part of safeguards in perpetuity has been spelt out, the linkage of such safeguards with fuel supply in perpetuity remain unclear”.

The agreement assures that in the event of the termination of cooperation with the US, compensation would be paid for the return of nuclear material and related material. This will be small comfort for the damage caused, he said.

“However, whether the fuel supply will continue even after the cessation or termination of the agreement depends solely on the US Congress. The Hyde Act explicitly states that the US will work with the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) countries to stop all fuel and other supplies to India if the agreement is terminated under US laws,” Karat said.

He said, “The 123 agreement represents the acceptance of the IAEA safeguards in perpetuity for uncertain fuel supplies and continuing nuclear isolation with respect to a substantial amount of technological know-how.”

The “flawed nuclear cooperation agreement cannot be justified on the debatable basis of augmenting our energy resources, or achieving energy security. The motivation for the US side is commercial gains, which will accrue for its corporates running into billions of dollars. The bilateral nuclear agreement must be seen as a crucial step to lock in India into the US global strategic designs,” CPM leader said.

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