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BJP to Centre: Junk nuclear deal

New Delhi, Dec. 10: The BJP today formally reacted to the US nuclear waiver act by describing it as an “intrusive and humiliating” attempt at “capping, rolling back and eventually eliminating” India’s nuclear weapons capability.

The party asked the Centre to reject the legislation, passed by US Congress last week to allow civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India. It repeated its stand that the BJP retained the right to abrogate the deal if and when it came to power.

The government’s response was low-key. Parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee would make statements in both Houses of Parliament tomorrow, and indicated the government might allow a short discussion.

BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie spelt out the party’s position after emerging from a meeting at Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s home, attended also by L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Jaswant Singh. They demanded that the Prime Minister explain India’s stand.

“It is now clear that the United States’s aim in signing the nuclear deal with India was to cap our nuclear capabilities as well as make us fall in line with their foreign policy objectives. The only alternative before us now is to reject the act in totality,” Yashwant said.

The BJP leaders cited seven principal objections to the waiver act:

• It does not provide for full civilian nuclear cooperation

• The certification and reporting requirements are rigorous

• Even civilian reactors are not assured fuel supplies. India cannot reprocess the used fuel nor can it ship it back to America unless the US Congress clears the reshipment

• The moratorium on production of fissile material remains a key US objective

• Delhi has been debarred from nuclear testing even of the kind the CTBT permits

• The US retains the right to carry out its own end-use verification. In addition to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection, India’s nuclear weapons programme will be subject to US scrutiny through the requirement of cooperation in research with the National Nuclear Security Administration

India is expected to stick to obligations under international protocols such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. The Prime Minister had admitted Delhi had reservations about these.

Both BJP leaders said the legislation “makes a mockery” of Manmohan Singh’s assurances to Parliament. “The principle of parity, on which the PM had placed so much emphasis, stands abandoned. Reciprocity and sequencing of the various steps have been given the go-by,” Shourie said.

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