India's pact with IAEA not final: Kakodkar
As the government readies to hold another round of talks with its Left allies to resolve the deadlock over the nuclear deal, Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar has said that India's pact with IAEA is not final.
Kakokdar's comment on the IAEA pact contrasts with the impression given by the government that India has finalised the text of its pact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and was only waiting for approval from its Left allies to go ahead with the deal.
"Well that depends... I think we have made very good progress there," Kakodkar told NDTV when asked whether more needed to be done to finalise the pact with the UN nuclear watchdog.
"Nothing is final till everything is final," Kakodkar said.
When asked about a timeline for clinching the IAEA pact, he said, "I won't be in a position to answer that question".
Appearing resigned to the deal languishing due to political opposition, Kakodkar said India's indigenous nuclear energy programme could survive on the basis of domestic strengths.
"We have finalised the language of the text of the agreement for the process of signing. After that, it will be taken to the board of governors," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Washington last month.
"In any case, the domestic efforts are on and we hope to meet the domestic programme needs on the basis of domestic strengths. If external inputs are available, so much the better," Kakodkar said.
"The fact is the domestic programme was 10,000 MW. The question is what rate I will be able to produce it and how fast. If we get inputs from outside we can do that much faster," he added.
No dates for the UPA-Left meeting have been officially announced, but according to sources it could happen in the first week of May.
"We have not heard from the government about the meeting," Communist Party of India leader AB Bardhan said.
The ruling United Progressive Alliance has made it clear that while the nuclear deal is important, it is not ready to sacrifice the government for the sake of the deal that seeks to re-open doors of global nuclear commerce after a gap of three decades.
"It would be like 'death without martyrdom'. We want the deal but the ruling coalition is also conscious that there can't be a deal without a government," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in Washington recently.
"Either way if the nuclear deal goes through, it is very good. We want it. But it is certainly not a time to say requiem if it does not go through," the Congress leader said.
The Left parties, who have opposed the deal consistently on grounds that it will make India a "subordinate ally" of the US, have told the government to either choose its survival or the deal.
The White House has made it clear to India that if the next two steps - IAEA pact and a change in guidelines by the Nuclear Suppliers Group - are not concluded by June, it will be difficult for the US Congress to ratify the deal this year.