Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament does not shed any new light on the India US Nuclear Agreement that calls for a re-assessment on our part. He has reiterated his position on the agreement and has not addressed the issues that we have raised.

One of the more important issues raised by the Left right from the beginning is the link that the agreement has had on India’s foreign policy. Here, the issue is not what the Prime Minister is saying but what his Government is doing. The Defence Framework Agreement of 2005, the Logistics Support Agreement being negotiated currently, joint naval exercises being planned and the stand on the Iran nuclear issue are there before us. Therefore, it is difficult to agree with the Prime Minister that this agreement has no impact on our independent foreign policy, especially when the US officials are busy selling the agreement to the US Congress on the strategic value of India aligning with the US as a consequence of the agreement.

Apart from the foreign policy, on other matters also the Prime Minister’s statement does not address the issues we have raised. Some of these are given below:

1.The Prime Minister, for instance, has said that the annual certification does not find a place in the 123 Agreement, appearing to imply that therefore this clause of the Hyde Act is not being implemented. A simple reading of Constitutional practice of the US would clarify that this Annual Certification is an obligation of the US President, which he is bound to fulfil. That it does not find a place in the 123 Agreement is not relevant. The issue that we have raised is if a “good conduct certificate” is not forthcoming or if the US Congress does not accept the good conduct certificate given (on issues ranging from Iran to anything that may come up in the future) what would be the implications for the 123 Agreement. In our understanding, the US could terminate the Agreement with all its consequences for our civilian nuclear energy program.

2.The Left Parties statement has explained in detail, why we do not think that life term security for nuclear fuel has been achieved in this Agreement. What we have are assurances while the Hyde Act contains the provisions, which would cut in if the US terminates the Agreement. Under the Hyde Act, if this agreement is terminated, the US would not help India tide over the “disruption” but would be obligated to work with the NSG countries to stop all supplies. This is also the reason that Clause 2.1 makes clear that each party will operate this Agreement in accordance with its the domestic laws, meaning obviously the US and the Hyde Act.

3.On the issue of full access to technology for the fuel cycle, which the Prime Minister had assured the Parliament earlier, it is now clear that this will not be available to India. The Prime Minister has essentially confirmed this; the only concession finally secured is “forward-looking language”.

4.The Prime Minister has also emphasised the gains made with regard to the right to reprocess spent US fuel. However, this is only a notional right at present and subject to conditions that may emerge in the future.

The Prime Minister’s statement also talks about his belief that the NSG would give unrestricted right to nuclear fuel and technology “the Nuclear Suppliers Group has to agree, by consensus, to adapt its guidelines, we expect without conditions, to enable nuclear commerce with India and to dismantle the restrictions on the transfer of dual use technologies and items to our country”. This is the same belief he had expressed in Parliament when he had stated that the US would give full access to civilian nuclear technology, an expectation, which he has now conceded has been belied. We see no basis for his continued optimism in this regard, particularly as the NSG functions on the basis of consensus and the US is supposed to steer the change of Guidelines on our behalf.
The CPI(M) reiterates its stand that the government should not proceed with operationalising the bilateral agreement.