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123: PM, Sinha exchange salvos
No US pressure against Russian deal: Govt
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
The government today came under fire from the NDA, the Left and the UNPA on the Indo-US nuclear deal during the short-duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha with opposition members asking it not to proceed with the agreement as it lacked majority support in Parliament. The discussion, which saw arguments being marshalled by all sides, also witnessed a few heated exchanges between the BJP and the treasury benches. External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee will reply to the debate tomorrow.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who intervened briefly during speech of BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, dismissed the charges that India had come under US pressure on not signing agreements on Koodankulam reactors with Russia during his recent visit, saying these could not be concluded as the requisite approvals had not been obtained from the IAEA and the NSG.

Responding forcefully to Sinha’s criticism that the government had not signed the agreements on the reactors under pressure, the Prime Minister said the member was “preaching falsehoods.”

Agreeing that a draft was ready, Manmohan Singh said it had always been understood that the agreements for four additional reactors at Koodankulam could be signed only after India got approval from the IAEA for India-specific safeguards and necessary clearances from the NSG. He said Russia fully understands India’s position.

Adding sarcasm to his remark, the Prime Minister said Sinha was perhaps reminded of his own performance when, as a finance minister, he could not meet his counterpart during a foreign visit. Sinha objected to PM’s remarks, saying Manmohan Singh had become personal.

Sinha reiterated the party’s position that the deal would be renegotiated if the BJP came to power. He said the BJP had objections to the agreement over its impact on the weapons programme and independence of foreign and nuclear policies. He said the agreement could impact India’s need to maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent.

Asserting that the Hyde Act had the worst provisions of the US legislations, Sinha said the Prime Minister had told mediapersons in the USA that the government could move forward on the deal only on the basis of broad national consensus.

JD(U) leader Digvijay Singh said the government had no right to proceed with the agreement which did not enjoy majority support in Parliament.

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