India to take up controversial letter on nuclear deal with US

India to take up controversial letter on nuclear deal with US
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First Published: Sun, Sep 07 2008. 03 14 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Sep 07 2008. 03 14 PM IST
New Delhi: “India and the US are elated that their nuclear deal has received endorsement from the NSG but New Delhi is taking up with the Bush Administration the State Department’s controversial letter to US Congress which stated that it would be denied fuel supplies if it conducted a nuclear test,” highly placed sources said here today.
The 26-page letter, released in Washington on the eve of the crucial NSG meeting in Vienna, created a furore in India and led to complications in deliberations of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which, however, subsequently granted the coveted waiver to New Delhi.
BJP and Left parties seized on the letter and accused the government of hiding ‘facts’ and demanded an urgent session of Parliament to discuss the issue.
In the controversial disclosures before the NSG meeting, the US had made it clear that it would stop fuel supplies and other nuclear cooperation if India conducted a nuclear test.
The US position in the letter appeared at variance with New Delhi’s interpretation of some key clauses of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
According to the sources, the letter contained certain issues which India will take up with the US, New Delhi has made it clear where it stands.
They said that the 123 Agreement with the US is awaiting signature and now that the NSG waiver is through they will go through the signature procedure.
The stoppage of nuclear cooperation in certain circumstances if India conducts an atomic test figures in the 123 bilateral agreement but impression so far has been that the US would ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies from other countries.
However, the letter released by a well-known opponent of the deal, Howard Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, contained an assertion by the Bush Administration that its assurances of nuclear supplies to India were not meant to insulate it against the consequences of a nuclear test.
Berman made public the State Department’s responses to 45 questions on the deal posed by his predecessor Tom Lantos way back in October last year. The answers were given on 16 January but for nearly nine months the document was kept under wraps at the request of the State Department.
After the disclosures, the BJP attacked the government accusing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of misleading the country on the issue and demanded an immediate session of Parliament to move a breach of privilege motion against him.
CPI(M) too joined BJP in attacking the government, accusing Singh of lying to people and Parliament on Indo-US nuclear deal and demanded his resignation. It said it would join hands with other parties to bring a no-confidence motion against his government.
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First Published: Sun, Sep 07 2008. 03 14 PM IST