Journalist | Writer | Analyst
So the Ministry of External Affairs has girded its loins and joined the fight (initiated by me in The Hindu yesterday), directly contesting President Bush’s September 10 assertion that the fuel supply assurances contained in the 123 agreement are not legally binding:
Response by Official Spokesperson to news report regarding
the Civil Nuclear Initiative12/09/2008
The Government of India does not comment on domestic political processes in the US or other countries.
In working with the US in civil nuclear cooperation India will be guided by the 123 Agreement alone.
The text of the India-US 123 Agreement has been agreed upon by the Governments of India and the United States. It is a public document. The rights and obligations of both India and the US are clearly spelt out in the terms and provisions of the 123 Agreement. Once this Inter-Governmental Agreement enters into force, the Agreement would become a legal document in accordance with well-recognised principles of international law and the Law of Treaties.
India-US civil nuclear cooperation will be carried out on the basis of the respective rights and obligations of the two sides as contained in the Agreement. By doing so, the Government will ensure that India’s rights are fully protected.
12 September, 2008
This is a good statement as far as the political semiotics of the 123 agreement are concerned. There is a text. Bush says it doesn’t apply. India says it does. If the U.S. Congress sits quiet and simply passes the 123 Agreement the way it is, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could still conceivably sign the agreement in Washington during his visit later this month and not worry too much about the political consequences. But if Congress approves the 123 with some kind of rider or parallel legislative move saying the agreement’s implementation will be strictly in accordance with the President’s letter transmitting the 123 to Capitol Hill, I don’t think Dr. Manmohan Singh will even be able to sign the agreement.
Either way, one thing is sure: As long as there is uncertainty about fuel supplies and reprocessing rights, India (or rather the Department of Atomic Energy) will simply not buy an American reactor.