ibnlive » Politics

Sep 04, 2008 at 08:46pm IST

'Letter bomb' no secret, just misunderstood: Sibal

New Delhi: The Nuclear Suppliers Group will reconvene in Vienna in sometime to continue discussions on an India waiver. The two-day meeting is considering whether or not India be allowed to have civilian nuclear trade with the international community.

In discussions so far, some countries have raised questions over grant of waiver to India but there has been a positive change in talks. This time around, American officials are describing NSG talks as constructive. US says it is hopeful has continued to push New Delhi's case hoping for an early consensus on the issue.

But amidst all the uncertainty, the leaked letter [Read Story] is compounding the Government’s problems. Did the letter – leaked into Washington Post – really reveal the US double speak? Was the document secret and classifised?

CLEARING AIR: Sibal says the controversial letter was never classified by US State Department.

The Government is defending itself strongly and says it continues to be governed by the 123 Agreement. Union Minister Kapil Sibal spoke exclusively with Karan Thapar and said the letter has been misunderstood.

Following are the excerpts from the interview:

Karan Thapar: Let me start with a simple question – does the leak of this letter amount to a setback or a disaster for the Indo-US nuclear deal? Or has it been misunderstood and therefore misrepresented by the press?

Kapil Sibal: Of course it has been both misunderstood and misrepresented . First of all, it is not a secret document. There's no communication between the US government and the Congress saying it is secret and therefore don't leak it.

Karan Thapar: In other words, you are saying that it was never classified by the US State Department?

Kapil Sibal: It was never classified by the US State Department. The Congress decided to do one thing and that has nothing to do with the US government.

Karan Thapar: What you are saying is that this letter does not amount to secrets that the US State Department wanted hidden from India?

Kapil Sibal: We are two sovereign countries. India has a right to test and the US in terms of its sovereign decision can decide to do whatever is in the context of our rights.

Karan Thapar: So the status quo as existed from the 123 Agreement onwards has not changed because of the leak?

Kapil Sibal: Of course not. And the leak has nothing to do with the status quo. This leak is consistent with the 123 Agreement which itself provides what would happen in event of change of environment if India were to test. There's a whole modality to be adhered to in the 123 by both the countries.