India to set up panel to look into nuclear deal with US

India's United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced Thursday that it would be setting up a panel to look into the doubts expressed by its leftist party allies on a civilian nuclear deal with the United States.

India to set up panel to look into nuclear deal with US
India's United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced Thursday that it would be setting up a panel to look into the doubts expressed by its leftist party allies on a civilian nuclear deal with the United States.

"The government will take into account the committee's findings while operationalising the nuclear deal," India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee said. He said the panel's composition would be announced shortly.

Though Mukherjee did not spell out that the deal was being put on hold, leaders of leftist parties said his statement made clear that the government would not implement the deal until the committee's findings were known.

The leftist parties, which provide crucial support to the minority UPA government in parliament, had earlier warned of "serious political consequences" if the deal was not stalled and negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) put on hold.

The Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement would allow the US to help India's civilian nuclear energy programme, ending a three- decade ban. The deal has to be approved by the US Congress and the 45-member NSG which controls international trade in fissile materials.

The IAEA also has to work out a special safeguards arrangement with India before trade can begin.

Mukherjee's statement came after long meetings between leaders of the two parties and, for the moment, puts to rest fears of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's minority government collapsing in the event of the left allies withdrawing support.

"We are satisfied or we would not have agreed," Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat was quoted as saying by NDTV television channel.

The leftist parties feel the agreement would have serious and negative implications for India's strategic sovereignty, with US laws giving that country the right to cease cooperation if India tests a nuclear weapon.

They are also wary of India's growing strategic alignment with the US and its implications for the country's foreign policy.

The panel proposed by the government will look into certain aspects of the bilateral agreement, implications of the Hyde Act on the 123 agreement and the self-reliance in the nuclear sector, a statement read out by Mukherjee said.

"The committee will also examine the implications of the nuclear agreement on foreign policy and security cooperation," Mukherjee added.

It was not immediately clear whether the planned discussions with the IAEA on nuclear safeguards scheduled for September would go ahead, IANS news agency reported.

The 123 agreement, setting out terms of civilian nuclear cooperation between the US and India, was finalized in July after two years of negotiations.

The Hyde Act or United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006 provides the legal basis for a 123 Agreement with India.

A parliamentary debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal is likely to be held on September 10 and 11, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunshi said.

DPA
Last Mod: 30 Ağustos 2007, 16:19
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