02 June 2007

Nuclear talks to enter third day

Indian officials say they will not makke undue haste in concluding the 123 agreement and are looking at August as a possible deadline for agreement rather than the next few days.

2 June 2007
The Hindu

Nuclear talks to enter third day

Siddharth Varadarajan

New Delhi: Negotiations between India and the United States over the terms of their proposed nuclear cooperation agreement will carry on for a third day, official sources said on Friday night.

Senior officials were extremely guarded in their comments about how Friday's technical round of talks had gone. Asked whether there was the likelihood of a breakthrough on Saturday, one highly placed Indian source told The Hindu , "Several issues are being sorted out one by one, hopefully."

While declining to provide details of the actual negotiations, another official said the Indian and American sides differed over the interpretation of the July 2005 agreement, with the U.S. negotiators taking the position that since the reprocessing of spent fuel did not explicitly figure in that joint statement, their Government was not obliged to accommodate the Indian demand for consent rights. On their part, Indian negotiators emphasised the fact that reprocessing was an integral part of the "full civil nuclear cooperation" the statement spoke of, as well as of the benefits that all countries "with advanced nuclear technology" were entitled to.

As for the U.S. insistence on including a "right of return" over any nuclear equipment or material in the event of an Indian nuclear test, the Indian side is insistent that this "right" cannot apply to any fuel supplies provided, including a strategic reserve.

Without prejudice to the outcome of Saturday's interaction, senior officials told The Hindu that India was not going to make undue haste in concluding the `123 negotiations' in time for the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the G-8 outreach meeting at Heilingendamm next week.

"We have been informed that Mr. Bush will leave Germany earlier than scheduled, so there will hardly be time for anything other than a very brief meeting between Dr. Singh and the U.S. President," a highly placed source said. "Of course, we hope to register substantial progress in this round itself but, in general, we are aiming at August, so that the 123 agreement is in place when Congress comes back from its summer recess."

On Friday evening, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns — the Bush administration's point man for seeing the nuclear deal with India through — held a lengthy meeting with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan at the latter's office in the PMO. Others present at the parley were Department of Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.

Mr. Burns also separately met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister of State in the MEA Anand Sharma. According to MEA sources, though the U.S. side would like Mr. Burns to pay a "courtesy call" on Dr. Singh, the Ministry had not cleared the meeting as of Friday night and was unlikely to do so on Saturday.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the issues of delayed progress of talks is "what if nuclear testing is required in future". Not only does this question haunt the India establishment it is in the mind of US nuclear establishment too but in a slighty different format considering that they have an elaborate "maintenance" program without nuclear testing. Considering all this here is a very interesting analysis by FAS -
http://fas.org/2007/nuke/Stockpile_Stewardship_Paper.pdf

Though this from the American perspective on an American issue, it begs the question as to what the deal says/will say about such research activties in future especially since all the nuclear weapon states have such a program. Though the maintenance program is elaborate considering the absurd amount of arsenal America has the success of such a program should raise the question as to what if such a program is adopted by India then can it be more confident that it can maintain its minimum deterence without nuclear testing with more confidence ?

Mayurdas Bholanath said...

In his blog "Major obstacles persist in nuclear deal" of 25th April 2007 (just a month ago) Siddharth Varadarajan had analysed and highlighted a VIBGYOR of issues then on the negotiating table. Nowadays, this list, in most media reports, is whittled down to only four, probably merging one into the other, as the colours do in a rainbow.

What happened to one of the "reddest" issues ["infra-red", if you like since in that article, this was not one of Siddharth Varadarajan's spectrum of 7], namely interference by the US in our sovereignty to interact with other countries (Iran, in particular)? I believe details of resolution of this issue have not been in the news recently.

I have been highlighting the undesirability of placing India-built nuclear power plants in the intrusive Safeguards list and am aware that this viewpoint has not caught attention. May be time will tell whether my analysis and conclusions are right or not. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the right royal path for achieving realistic advances in development of high technology our country goes in a diametrically opposite direction to the proposed nuclear deal with the US. The proper course is in changing the thinking and strategies that have been and are being adopted by our political, bureaucratic and technical policy makers and implementers.

Mayurdas Bholanath said...

In his blog "Major obstacles persist in nuclear deal" of 25th April 2007 (just a month ago) Siddharth Varadarajan had analysed and highlighted a VIBGYOR of issues then on the negotiating table. Nowadays, this list, in most media reports, is whittled down to only four, probably merging one into the other, as the colours do in a rainbow.

What happened to one of the "reddest" issues ["infra-red", if you like since in that article, this was not one of Siddharth Varadarajan's spectrum of 7], namely interference by the US in our sovereignty to interact with other countries (Iran, in particular)? I believe details of resolution of this issue have not been in the news recently.

I have been highlighting the undesirability of placing India-built nuclear power plants in the intrusive Safeguards list and am aware that this viewpoint has not caught attention. May be time will tell whether my analysis and conclusions are right or not. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the right royal path for achieving realistic advances in development of high technology our country goes in a diametrically opposite direction to the proposed nuclear deal with the US. The proper course is in changing the thinking and strategies that have been and are being adopted by our political, bureaucratic and technical policy makers and implementers.

Anonymous said...

Did the talks really fail or Dr. Manmohan Singh is playing some games to slience the critics. Suddenly during G8 summit he might say all the issues are resolved we can sign the deal. By keeping the details of the discussions secret this UPA government is really playing games.

As far as the IBN CNN panel is concerned why didn't they include some of the people from the right side like Bharat Karnad or others. Then the panel would have been really balanced.