October 30, 2020
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Red Lights On The Nuke Deal

First the Saffron lights turned red, but the reds are red too. 'US legislation is not acceptable,' says the CPI (M) 'Once again goal posts have been shifted. This cannot be accepted by India as it negates the most significant, if not all, assurances

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Red Lights On The Nuke Deal

Asked whether the deal should be scrapped, Prakash Karat, the general secretary of the CPI (M) maintains that "the government should talk to the Bush Administration and say that the new law does not meet the terms of the July agreement between President George Bush and the Prime Minister. The matter should be renegotiated". Responding to repeated queries whether the deal should be called off, he said, "red lights have been put on the deal. These lights could turn orange or even green, but that requires the two sides to discuss. But on the basis of the present Act, government should not proceed with the negotiations for the (bilateral) 123 Agreement".

Following is the full text of the statement issued by the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) 

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) is of the considered view that the recent Act passed by the US legislature concerning bilateral civil nuclear cooperation with India is grossly violative of the assurances made by the Prime Minister in the Indian parliament. An agreement on this basis will seriously undermine the pursuit of an independent foreign policy.

Replying to the debate in the Rajya Sabha on 17th August 2006, with specific reference to the nine points of concern raised by the CPI(M), the Prime Minister had unambiguously stated that India cannot and will not accept any compromises on the following:

1. Full civilian nuclear cooperation: "removal of all restrictions on all aspects of cooperation and technology transfers."

2. Principle of Reciprocity: "India will accept only IAEA safeguards on nuclear facilities in a phased manner…only when all restrictions on India have been lifted."

3. Annual certification by US President: "We have conveyed to the United States our opposition to these provisions, even if they are projected as non-binding on India, as being contrary to the letter and spirit of the July statement."

4. India as a state possessing advanced nuclear technology: "India’s strategic programme is totally outside the purview of the July statement and we oppose any legislative provisions that mandate scrutiny of either our nuclear weapons programme or our unsafeguarded nuclear facilities."

5. Safeguards agreement and fuel assurances: India seeks uninterrupted supply of fuel to reactors that would be placed under IAEA safeguards together with India’s right to take corrective measures in the event the fuel supplies are interrupted. Further, "there is no question of allowing American inspectors to roam around our nuclear facilities".

6. Autonomy of decision making on future scientific research and development: "We will not accept interference by other countries vis a vis the development of our strategic programme.

7. Moratorium on production of fissile material: "We are not willing to accept a moratorium on the production of fissile material".

8. Global Nuclear Disarmament: While committed to the Rajiv Gandhi action plan, "there is no question of India….accepting full scope safeguards as a requirement for nuclear supplies to India now or in the future."

9. Cessation of Future cooperation: Responding to US terms to cease cooperation in case India proceeds with further nuclear tests the PM had stated, "India’s position and development of nuclear weapons is an integral part of our national security. This will remain so."

The final act of the US legislation runs contrary to most of these assurances given by the Prime Minister. This includes provision of imposing restrictions and trade regimes barring access to dual use nuclear technology thus denying India its full nuclear fuel cycle. The annual good conduct certification by the US President remains. There are nine references to India’s role being one of support and complicity with the US designs on Iran. The act talks of India’s foreign policy being "congruent to that of the United States." Instead of an India specific additional protocol with the IAEA US law calls for a modified additional protocol meant for non-nuclear weapon countries etc.

Once again goal posts have been shifted. Two new provisions have been included concerning a) in case of US canceling its obligations it would help facilitating alternate fuel supplies from friendly countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This is now restricted only under conditions of market failures and does not cover deliberate US termination. b) It was agreed that US would help build a strategic fuel reserve to ensure continuity of running our reactors for their lifetime. The final act now explicitly bars any reserve other than normal operating reserves required to run our reactors.

Under these circumstances, the argument that the country should wait for the final bilateral agreement is specious. Obviously, the US 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 made by the Prime Minister to the Indian parliament. Thus, further negotiations on this score must not proceed.

The CPI(M) demands a full fledged debate in the Indian parliament. Nothing short of the assurances made by the Prime Minister on August 17, 2006 can be acceptable.

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