New Delhi: Communist party leaders asked the prime minister on 18 August not to move forward with a landmark nuclear energy deal with the US because they said the pact threatens India’s sovereignty.
The much-touted nuclear deal is seen as the foundation of closer India-US relations, but Indian critics argue it would give the US too much influence over their country’s foreign policy and wound undermine their weapons programme.
The deal allows the US to ship nuclear fuel and technology to India, which in exchange would open its civilian nuclear reactors to international inspectors. India’s military reactors would remain off-limits.
After a two-day meeting, Communist party leaders Saturday released a statement that said the agreement is “not acceptable”. The leaders objected to the deal because it would have “adverse consequences for an independent foreign policy, sovereignty and the economic interests of the people,” said Prakash Karat, president of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Karat did not threaten to withdraw support from the governing coalition, a move that could seriously threaten the stability of the ruling coalition led by the Congress party.
In a meeting Saturday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, Karat asked them not to move ahead with the deal until further discussions are held.
“It is for the Congress leadership to decide on the matter which will have serious consequences for the government and the country,” he said.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately comment.
Karat said the four-party, Left Front alliance, which has strongly voiced its objections to the deal, will meet soon to discuss the issue.
The nuclear deal reverses three decades of American policy by allowing the US to send atomic fuel and technology to India, which has never signed international nonproliferation accords and has tested atomic weapons in the past.
The deal still has to be approved by US lawmakers. India also needs to make separate agreements with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an assembly of nations that export nuclear material.