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Nuke talks in 3-para knot

Washington, June 3: Talks between India and the US on the nuclear deal stumbled on three paragraphs in the so-called 123 Agreement, according to documents made available to The Telegraph.

India found the paragraphs in the latest draft of the 123 Agreement, which must be passed by the US Congress for the nuclear deal to come into force, unacceptable during meetings between foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns that ended in Delhi yesterday.

These relate to reprocessing of spent fuel, critical to the survival and progress of India’s nuclear programme.

One of the offending paragraphs expressly prohibits reprocessing by India unless it is agreed to by the US.

The latest draft makes it incumbent on India that “material transferred pursuant to this Agreement and material used in or produced through the use of material or equipment so transferred shall not be reprocessed unless the Parties agree”.

Another paragraph has the potential to deal a crippling blow to efforts at thorium conversion to Uranium 233, which India has yet to reach.

This paragraph could have the long-term effect of capping India’s nuclear programme.

A third paragraph makes it clear that any enrichment of uranium by India acquired under the agreement with the US would be in violation of the nuclear deal.

That could have consequences not only for nuclear cooperation with the US, but also with other countries if the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group accepts the Indo-US deal as the basis for changing their rules to permit global nuclear commerce with New Delhi.

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