Apparently heeding to Samajwadi party's plea for a public statement to assuage its concerns on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Wednesday night said there was nothing in the agreement that compromised the country's strategic programme or its right to conduct a nuclear test.
The PMO issued a press release virtually repeating its earlier assurances that the deal did not undermine India's nuclear sovereignty or did any harm to the country's interest.
The release came shortly after SP leader Amar Singh, whose party is being wooed by the UPA for support in Parliament if the Left parties withdraw their backing, met National Security Advisor MK Narayanan and conveyed the party's misgivings on the deal.
At a press conference later, Singh said the prime minister should come out with a public statement either in Parliament or outside assuaging their concerns as they were not in a position to support the deal as of now.
Narayanan explained to the SP team that the 123 agreement "clearly overrides" the Hyde Act.
"A careful reading of the provisions of the 123 agreement would make it clear that substantive rights and obligations under the agreement are not affected by the national laws of the parties," the PMO statement said.
Asked by Amar Singh whether the deal would impinge on India's relations with Iran, the PMO said the bilateral ties were "time-honoured and civilisational in nature and no outside influence or pressure could force India to deviate from this path."
On Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, Narayanan told the SP team that it "epitomises" the nature and importance of the relationship. This was strongly reinforced during the visit of Iranian President Ahmedinejad to India in April this year. "India is not under any pressure, nor can it be pressurised to follow a course of action that is not dictated by our enlightened self-interest," it said.
On apprehensions that the nuclear deal would undermine the country's nuclear sovereignty, the PMO clarified that the deal would not in any way impinge on its strategic programme.
Narayanan made it clear that the 123 agreement contains specific mention that it would not affect activities involving India's strategic programme which were not under safeguards.
The NSA emphasised that there was nothing in the agreement which places an embargo on India's right to carry out a nuclear test if it thinks this is necessary in the country's supreme national interest.
To meet the contingency raised by the Hyde Act that the US might terminate its cooperation with India if it carried out a nuclear test, a very elaborate consultation process has been included in the agreement, he said.
On the agreement between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities, the NSA said the salient features of the draft which were yet to be finalised reflected the key understandings in crucial areas.
This relate to fuel supply assurances, strategic fuel resserves and corrective measures. Provisions have also been included which make it clear that India is offering its civilian nuclear facilities voluntarily for safeguards, he said.
Thus India would retain the right "till the very end" before putting any of its reactors under safeguards, he said.
He told the SP team that a major principle underlined in the agreement with the IAEA was that the global nuclear watchdog shall implement safeguards in a manner that do not hinder or interfere with any activity the use by India of nuclear material or technology developed by the country.