Is it possible for the government to freeze the operationalisation of the India-US civilian nuclear deal at this stage, as the Left wants it to?
It is going to be very difficult, say top officials involved in the negotiations. We are simply too far gone with the deal to go back on it. And, as the Prime Minister has said, it would be akin to reneging on an international commitment.
"The term 'operationalise' has no legal standing," a top official said. "Until the Left explains what it means, it is not possible to see how to deal with or work around their objections," he added.
Before India can begin nuclear commerce with the rest of the world, it has two more stages to cross.
One, an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Two, a nod from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Negotiations at both places are in highly advanced stages.
Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar travels to Vienna in September to attend a scheduled IAEA meeting.
And the PM's special envoy on the deal Shyam Saran is currently touring major NSG countries including Russia, Germany and Brazil, to seek their support for an unconditional waiver for India to trade in N-goods.
The Left wants the government not to go ahead at NSG and IAEA. Technically, negotiations can perhaps be put on hold for a brief while. But the US administration will be seriously into election mode by end-2007, and as that time approaches, the pressure to seal the deal will intensify. And India does need energy desperately.