Atal warns government on N-deal

Atal Bihari Vajpayee warns the Govt against any bilateral agreement with the US till Parliament has had a chance to discuss it thoroughly, reports Shekhar Iyer.
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Updated on Jul 06, 2007 09:27 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByShekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday warned the government against any bilateral agreement with the US for the civilian nuclear deal till Parliament has had a chance to discuss it thoroughly.

In a statement here, he questioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's approval a month back of a task force to review existing policy on disarmament, non-proliferation and other security-related issues.

"The setting up of this task force at this juncture is nothing more than a thinly veiled move towards reversing our nuclear related policies," he said.

Vajpayee timed his statement ahead of the visit by National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to Washington later this month.

They are to hold talks with their American interlocutors to iron out differences on the proposed 123 agreement to operationalise the nuclear deal.

Vajpayee said the idea seemed to bring India’s position on these issues in conformity with many of the "highly objectionable" provisions of the US Hyde Act "which is to govern the Indo-US nuclear deal" and "then to pretend that the changes have been undertaken by us autonomously."

Senior BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, who appeared before the media to explain Vajpayee’s statement, said, “the least that Vajpayee expected from the government is to explain its position on all these issues and set our doubts at rest.”

Sinha said, “the talk of a creative approach has fuelled our suspicion that a major comprise by India is on the anvil. We have adopted their goal posts while saying that we are not shifting our goal posts. This task force is help the US to implement its decision.”

Shourie said, “our assessment is that an attempt is being made to smuggle in the provisions of the Hyde Act in our policies.”

Vajpayee’s apprehensions were on two counts the ban on nuclear tests by India and the government’s contention that India was "working actively with the US for the early conclusion" of a "multilateral" Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty (FMCT).

Vajpayee said the confidence of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the deal would be concluded before the end of this year "may also be linked to the review of India's policies".

"Once the nuclear deal comes into effect, the Hyde Act will ensure that India loses forever its option of conducting a nuclear weapons test, even if any other country tests,” he warned.

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