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‘Secret Bush letter’ sparks row
Published on 4 Sep. 2008 1:52 AM IST
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A “secret letter” reportedly written by the Bush administration assuring the US Congress that Washington will terminate nuclear trade with India if New Delhi conducted a nuclear test has created a fresh row with opposition parties accusing the Manmohan Singh government of misleading the country on the nuclear deal. The Bush administration told this to Congress in correspondence that remained secret for nine months but was made public only Tuesday by Representative Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. The dramatic disclosure comes just a day ahead of the second special meeting of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna. The two-day conclave from Thursday will consider a revised draft to grant India a clean waiver from the existing rules of global nuclear commerce. A list of 45 questions on the nuclear deal was submitted to the State Department by Berman’s predecessor Tom Lantos way back in October 2007 and answers were sent on Jan 16, 2008. “The answers were considered so sensitive, particularly because the debate over the agreement in India could have toppled the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the State Department requested they remain secret even though they were not classified,” according to the Washington Post which quoted a spokesman for Berman as saying he had made the answers public because the US Congress must have “relevant information”. Leading opposition parties in India and critics of the nuclear deal have predictably seized on the report to attack the government over what it called “misrepresentation” of the nuclear deal. “With this revelation it has become clear that the Congress party has misled the nation since beginning. We will go to public about this and would renegotiate the deal if we come in power,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told IANS. The Communist parties, which withdrew their support to the Congress-led ruling coalition over the nuclear deal, touted the “secret letter” as clear evidence of their “worst suspicions coming true”. “It contradicts what the prime minister has said. The prime minister has misrepresented facts to parliament,” D. R aja, a leader of the Communist Party of India, told reporters.

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