The government on Wednesday cleared the text of the 123 agreement for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, saying the final agreement hammered out recently had addressed all Indian concerns.
The text of the agreement was placed before a joint meeting of the cabinet committee on political affairs and cabinet committee on security early on Wednesday.
“They approved the agreement,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced shortly after the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Delhi and Washington will make public the details of the agreement simultaneously at a mutually accepted time.
<b1>"All concerns of India have been reflected and adequately addressed," he added. Besides Mukherjee, Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Surface Transport Minister TR Baalu attended the meeting among others.
The agreement, which paves the way for Indo-US nuclear civil nuclear cooperation – is likely to be signed when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits India within the next month or two.
But before this, the government wants to build political consensus over the deal. The minister said consultations with political parties on the nuclear deal were being initiated. BJP leaders - former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Leaders of Opposition in both houses, LK Advani and Jaswant Singh – would be briefed about the salient features of the deal. Left leaders are expected to get their briefing on Thursday.
Mukherjee suggested the government was open to the idea of a parliamentary debate as well. The agreement will be placed before Parliament on the first working day of the monsoon session and a debate, if necessary, will take place, he said.
<b2>Officials have said the agreement reflects Indian concerns on two of the major outstanding issues: reprocessing of spent fuel and assured nuclear fuel supplies for the lifetime of a reactor.
It is learnt that the agreement provides that if India undertakes a nuclear test, the US administration and the President would have to take a call. The US is bound by the terms of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, but what has been agreed upon is not automatic suspension and return of all American nuclear supplies, should India test, but taking into account the circumstances of testing, if any,” Lalit Mansingh, former Indian Ambassador to US, had earlier said.