Special Correspondent

Says U.S. law is unacceptable

  • "It could weaken independent foreign policy"
  • Final Act runs contrary to Dr. Singh's assurances .

    NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has said that the United States' legislation on the nuclear deal was "not acceptable," and asked the Manmohan Singh Government to discontinue talks with the George Bush administration, as the law contradicted most significant assurances given by the Prime Minister to Parliament.

    ``Argument specious''

    The party's Polit Bureau said in a statement: "The final Act of the U.S. legislation runs contrary to most of the assurances given by the Prime Minister. Once again the goalposts have been shifted... under these circumstances, the argument that the country should wait for the final bilateral agreement is specious.

    "Obviously, the U.S. administration is bound by the provisions of its Act while negotiating this agreement. This cannot be accepted by India, as it negates the most significant, if not all, assurances given by the Prime Minister to Parliament. Thus, further negotiations on this score must not proceed.''

    Releasing the statement, party general secretary Prakash Karat said the 123 agreement would be on the basis of the U.S. law and the Bush administration cannot go beyond what had been passed by Congress.

    "A major issue is that the civilian nuclear cooperation entails the right of India to sale of enriched fuel and reprocessing technique. The law provides for imposing restrictions and trade regimes, barring access to dual use nuclear technology. Thus India will be denied its full nuclear cycle."

    On the annual good conduct certification by the U.S. President, he said that as the agreement would be in perpetuity, there was a possibility of the "screws being tightened," if a Democrat, having different views on nuclear non-proliferation, came to power.

    Nine references

    Mr. Karat said there were nine references to India's role being one of support and complicity with the U.S. designs on Iran. The Act talked about India's foreign policy being "congruent to that of the United States." This could seriously weaken India's independent foreign policy.

    "The agreement is between India and the United States and not for Iran. Even the preamble goes beyond nuclear cooperation and there is an attempt to bind India to U.S. strategic interests in the name of partnership."

    Instead of an India-specific additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.S. laws called for a modified additional protocol, meant for non-nuclear weapons countries.

    Two new provisions

    On inclusion of two provisions in the Act, under which the U.S. would help facilitate alternate fuel supplies from friendly countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in the event of the U.S. cancelling its obligations, Mr. Karat said this was restricted to ``only under conditions of market failure and does not cover deliberate U.S. termination.''

    The other provision that ``explicitly'' barred any reserve, other than normal operating reserves to run Indian reactors, went against the agreement that the U.S. would help build a strategic fuel reserve to ensure continuity of the reactors for lifetime, he said.

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