CHENNAI: The former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), P.K. Iyengar, has said the latest modifications made in the 123 agreement by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate nullified the promises made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the nuclear agreement between India and the U.S.
These modifications have also neutralised the demands/observations of AEC Chairman Anil Kakodkar that India had been assured of uninterrupted fuel supply in the 123 agreement, that India had a right to find alternative suppliers in case the supply was disrupted and that the Nuclear Suppliers Group waiver to India should be clean and unconditional, Dr. Iyengar said in an interview here last Saturday.
“The entire 123 agreement is orchestrated to bind India to a status of a non-nuclear weapon country and surrendering its right to reprocess [the spent fuel] even under the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards,” he said.
Dr. Singh, the former AEC Chairman said, promised the nation the following: that India would not compromise on uninterrupted nuclear fuel supply to its imported reactors, it would be allowed to build a stockpile of fuel, it could take corrective measures in case of fuel supply disruption and that India’s sovereign right to conduct a nuclear test would not be taken away by the agreement.
However, the recent legislation passed by the U.S. House and the Senate did not accept the 123 agreement in toto, Dr. Iyengar said. The Bill titled “United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-Proliferation Enhancement Act” had a new provision that the U.S. President should write to the Senate, saying that he would influence the NSG countries to apply the same restrictions as the U.S. would in the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to India.
Another modification entailed that in the case of disruption of fuel supply to India (if India tested a nuclear device), the U.S. President would ensure that no country came to the rescue of India.
“Why is the Government of India silent on this new provision,” Dr. Iyengar asked. “According to the new Act, the U.S. President has to certify that he has made all efforts and made the NSG agree that they will not contravene the U.S. if the U.S. refuses to supply fuel to India. It means that India will be under the U.S. control all the time,” he asserted. This provision violated the 123 agreement which said other countries would be called into play if fuel supply to India was disrupted. Besides, President George W. Bush had said there was “no legal binding” on the U.S. assurance of uninterrupted fuel supply to India.
The U.S. insisted that India would have to approach Congress every time it wanted to reprocess the spent fuel and that the U.S. could deny the right to India to reprocess. “This means there will be an uncertainty after we build a dedicated facility for reprocessing,” Dr. Iyengar said. If the U.S. did not like the design of this facility, India would be stuck. Damage insurance
On top of all these, the U.S. industries had now revealed that the new rules of that country’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission demanded that any industry which built a nuclear plant should have a damage insurance guaranteed by the U.S. government and that the government of India should give a similar guarantee if the plant were to be built in India.
This insurance would make the tariff from a nuclear power plant built by a U.S. company in India costlier besides subsidising the U.S. company’s investment in India, Dr. Iyengar said.
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