Clearly stating that he thought the India-US civil nuclear deal was good for India, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said though there was ‘no consensus’ on the 123 Agreement, the government would seek a ‘sense of the House (Parliament)’ before the deal goes to the US Congress.
“I do not say that the majority of members of Parliament are supporting it. To some extent, the judgement is premature in the sense that the process is not yet complete,” Mukherjee said. However, “Before we go for its (123 Agreement’s) ratification in the American Parliament, we will come to Parliament to take the sense of the House even though there is no provision in the Constitution that stands in our way,” Mukherjee said. He was responding to queries at an interaction with mediapersons during an orientation programme on Parliamentary reporting.
The sense of the House, Mukherjee said, would be taken after the three-stage process of the deal was completed with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. He was seeking to allay concerns of the government’s Left allies who are opposing the deal. “There are three processes, one is 123, which has been done, the second is IAEA India-specific safeguards agreement, that is yet to be done, and the third is amendment to the NSG guidelines that is again yet to be done,” he said.
Pointing out why it was important to get parliamentary approval, Mukherjee said, “Even if you have the right to sign the treaty, for implementation of the international treaty, you require legislations and these have to be done by Parliament. If at that point of time, Parliament refuses to move the legislation, the international agreement will be of no use,” he said. The next meeting of the Left-UPA panel on the nuclear deal is slated for May 6.