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N-deal will not affect strategic programmes, PM tells Vajpayee

N-deal will not affect strategic programmes, PM tells Vajpayee
PTI
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First Published: Fri, Jul 27 2007. 12 27 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Jul 27 2007. 12 27 AM IST
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday assured his predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that the proposed Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement would have no impact on Delhi’s strategic programmes.
The assurance was given to a delegation of top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders led by Vajpayee during a two-hour meeting but former Union minister Yashwant Sinha said the BJP still has apprehensions.
“Our apprehensions have not been allayed completely,” Sinha, a former external affairs minister, told reporters after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence here. He did not elaborate.
“We have no reason to distrust him, but we would like to first go through the text of the draft agreement,” he said.
“The text of the agreement is clearly frozen. Neither India nor the US can now make any changes in it. But they (the government) have not shared with us the text of the agreement. They tried to share only the main elements of the agreement,” he said.
Sinha said the BJP delegation told the Prime Minister that in the absence of the text “to which we are not privy at this stage, it will be difficult for us to respond in detail to the provisions of the bilateral agreement”.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister told the BJP delegation that India’s concerns had been addressed adequately in the 123 agreement reached in Washington last week. Besides Vajpayee and Sinha, the delegation included former Union ministers Jaswant Singh and Arun Shourie and BJP president Rajnath Singh. External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodar were also present.
“They were trying to assure us that the agreement would have no impact on our weapons programme and the three-stage nuclear programme and that all our concerns about the reprocessing of fuel have been taken care of,” Sinha said. Sinha, who called the meeting consensus-building on a frozen agreement, said his party would examine the text, when it is made public, in the context of the US 1954 Atomic Energy Act and the Hyde Act.
Sinha said the Opposition would look into the language of the text for its “interpretation”. “Certainly, this issue will also come up in Parliament. We do have our doubts.” He added that it was up to the government to keep up the dialogue process with the Opposition on the deal. In his comments, Shourie referred to the PM’s approval a month back to a task force to review existing policy on disarmament, non-proliferation and other security-related issues. The BJP has alleged that the move is an attempt to reverse nuclear-related policies. “This agreement is part of a whole series of events,” he remarked, adding that the media, too, had in the past been “used” in connection with issues such as those relating to Iran.
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First Published: Fri, Jul 27 2007. 12 27 AM IST