Centre woos Left with new formula
If the Left allies are willing, the Govt could take the finalised draft agreement it has reached with the IAEA and present it for signing, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.Updated: May 09, 2008 02:19 IST
The India-US civil nuclear deal, though “very difficult,” may not be dead, yet.
The government has given its Left allies a formula that it hopes will allow India to complete the safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It has presented them with draft civil nuclear agreements prepared with Russia and France, which the government is unable to sign until the India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA is signed and complete.
If the Left allies are willing, the government could take the finalised draft agreement it has reached with the IAEA and present it for signing to the IAEA Board of Governors, due to meet in Vienna from June 2.
According to high-level government sources, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told representatives from the Left parties that it would not be possible to conclude civil nuclear agreements with either Russia or France unless the afeguards agreement with the IAEA is completed.
Sources said there was a “small window of opportunity” for the Left allies to relent on the issue of finalising the safeguards agreement with the IAEA before the next meeting of the UPA-Left mechanism, headed by Mukherjee, on May 28.
Completing the IAEA India-specific safeguards agreement would not constitute “operationalisation” of the India-US civil nuclear deal to which the Left has objections. But it would save the government from suffering a loss of face internationally, which it would if it were viewed as pulling out of an international obligation.
Even after the IAEA safeguards are finalised, there are two further stages to complete before the India-US deal can be called a “done deal.” One is an India-specific waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which would allow India to resume nuclear commerce with the nuclear trading nations. The second is the passage of the 123 Agreement through the US Congress, only after which the deal would be complete and ready for operationalisation.
Mukherjee recently told mediapersons he would bring the 123 Agreement back to Parliament for “a sense of the House” before it was taken up by the US Congress.