India may complete talks with IAEA by next Friday

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Dec 30 | Updated: Dec 31 2007, 05:09am hrs
As the department of atomic energy (DAE) team led by Ravi B Grover is expected to complete the next round of India-specific safeguard negotiations with the IAEA by January 4, the UPA government could face its first crisis in 2008 by the end of next week.

If the DAE officials succeed in drafting an agreement with the nuclear watchdog, the next meeting of the UPA-Left mechanism could also happen in the second week of January. The next round of discussions will begin on January 2.

The CPI(M) and the Left parties have been asking the government to complete the IAEA discussions soon. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat had even given an ultimatum to the Centre that the talks with the IAEA must be through by December.

He had also said that the Left parties allowed the government to go to IAEA keeping the Gujarat elections in mind. With the Congress losing in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh the Left is likely step up its demand to wind up the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The Left has been told that only through the IAEA discussions, the government can meet its demands such as uninterrupted fuel supply. It is learnt that the DAE team has also raised this issue with the IAEA secretariat during the negotiations. First let them complete the discussions and come with the draft agreement, if any. Then we will ask the government to call the meeting of the Left-UPA committee. Only after that we will take any decisions, a senior CPI(M) leader told FE.

The Left leaders have been maintaining that whatever the results of the IAEA negotiations, there is hardly a chance that the Left changes its position on the nuclear deal. Yes, those who are pro-deal comprise the majority of the committee. But the decision of the committee will be a political decision and I am sure that it will reflect the Lefts concerns, the senior leader added.