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End product to determine course on N-deal: PM

If US law is not in tandem with our end then it'll be a deterrent, PM tells House.
None | By Press Trust of India, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 29, 2006 07:37 PM IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday made it clear that if the "end product" of the American legislation on Indo-US nuclear deal was not consistent with last year's agreement, then that would be the "determining factor" on what India will do.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha hours after the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the last year's deal, Singh also said, "Let it (legislative process) be completed. Once it is completed we will then determine whether there are elements which go beyond what we have committed in July 18 (agreement) last year."

He said the US legislative process was still on. "The House of Representatives has taken up the bill and there is a Senate bill and when there is difference between the two bills there will be a conference.

"I cannot say that I can predict what the US legislative process be. All I can say is if US legislative process leads to an end product which is not consistent with what we have committed that would be the determining factor of what we can do," he said.

He was replying to supplementaries to a question on the deal in the House.

The Prime Minister's statement comes in the midst of apprehensions expressed by opposition parties and Left allies that the US was shifting goalposts and the legislation would go against India's interest.

Assuring members that India will not compromise on the parameters agreed in the July 18 statement, Singh admitted that in the Bills that were before the two congressional panels "there were elements which are of concern to us" and said adequate representations have been made to the US government.

Singh said he had spoken about this to President George W Bush himself in St Petersburg recently and that he has an assurance that "US administration will do all it can to see that the parameters, the goalposts of the July 18 are not tampered with."

"If the US legislation process....Is not in tandem with our end....Then it will be a deterrent", he said adding, "we have not signed anything...Let US process be completed."

Prime Minister assured that he would take the Parliament into confidence before entering the agreement.

Singh refuted former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Singh's argument that the goal post has been shifted. "The goal post is there," the Prime Minister asserted.

Later the NDA and SP member staged a walk out saying the Prime Minister's assurance on the deal was not satisfactory.

SP Member Amar Singh, was joined by the NDA members in demanding a resolution on the Indo-US nuclear deal. Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat disallowed the demand.

"All the members, barring the Congress want to know whether the government will bring in a resolution on on the issue," Amar Singh said as he was joined by the other NDA members including former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Sushma Swaraj on the issue. 

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said India was required to enter into a safeguard agreement for its civilian nuclear facilities with IAEA only and the agreement would be India-specific.

He ruled out any inspection of nuclear facilities by the US saying Indian facilities would be open only to IAEA inspections after the deal is clinched.

The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal guaranteed New Delhi with multi-layered, reliable and uninterrupted fuel supplies. India also had the right to build strategic storages, he said.

Only civilian nuclear facilities, being separated from the military ones by the India, would be put under IAEA safeguards, he said.

Sharma said the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament on July 29, 2005 had stated that "before voluntarily placing our civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards, we will ensure that all restrictions on India have been lifted."

"But there is no question of placing Indian civilian facilities under safeguards till we are assured that restrictions on civil nuclear energy cooperation with India have been lifted," he said.

He said it would be difficult to predict the language of the final legislation, including any reference to the Safeguard Agreement.

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