The Indo-US nuclear agreement will be terminated if New Delhi decides to test a nuclear device, the US State Department said on Tuesday. His government already weighed down by the political fallout of the deal, the last thing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needed was such a statement. <b1>
According to reports from Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “The proposed 123 Agreement has provisions in it that in an event of a nuclear test by India, all nuclear cooperation gets terminated.” There is also a “provision for return of all materials, including reprocessed material covered by the agreement,” he added.
Scrupulously refraining from any mention of the nuclear deal in his address to the nation on Wednesday, Singh could not have welcomed such comments from the US State Department, at this juncture.
Article 14 of the bilateral 123 Agreement on Cooperation for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy deals with termination of the agreement and cessation of cooperation, but does not specifically mention testing a nuclear weapon as a cause.
“Either party shall have the right to terminate this agreement prior to its expiration on one year’s written notice to the other party. A party giving notice of termination shall provide the reasons for seeking such termination,” states Clause 1 of Article 14.
Referring to McCormack’s statement, a senior official from the Ministry of External Affairs said, “We have the right to test. They have the right to react.”