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Nuclear agreement Left nukes dream deal

As a divisive issue in Indian politics, the still-in-the works civil nuclear deal with the US continued to enjoy number one status in 2007.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2007 18:48 IST

As a divisive issue in Indian politics, the still-in-the works civil nuclear deal with the US continued to enjoy number one status in 2007. A 123 Agreement with the US, negotiated over several months, finally saw an initialed draft being made public in August.

The Left and the BJP jumped on the government as soon as the draft was made public. In response, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a newspaper in August that the Left parties were free to withdraw support. It looked at one stage that the UPA would collapse under the weight of the nuclear deal.

And, then the government pulled back and protracted talks led to the formation of a UPA-Left committee, which seemingly has a veto power over the deal. After several meetings, the Left, which had threatened to withdraw support if the government talked about a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic energy Agency, allowed talks with the international nuclear watchdog.

That's where things stand at the moment. The government is still to clinch a safeguards agreement with the agency which will have to be approved by the UPA-Left panel , and the agency's board. Given the position taken by the Left in Parliament, the deal could be stuck in the New Year. The Nuclear Suppliers Group hurdle is still to be crossed.

Many obituaries have been written for the nuclear deal, but is seems to have a half-life of its own.