123 agreement will override Hyde Act: Govt

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 18, 2007 02:39 IST
US-has-won-over-Indians-with-nuclear-deal

The ratification of the bilateral Indo-US 123 civil nuclear agreement by the American Congress would render infructuous the domestic US law, the Hyde Act, which the Left fears would impinge on India’s sovereignty and strategic growth.

The government on Monday dispatched a 12-page note to the leaders of the four Left parties arguing why India’s nuclear agreement is better than the ones signed by China and Japan with the US. The note point-by-point answered the questions that the Left had raised in an earlier note sent to UPA representatives in the Left-UPA political committee set up to resolve differences on the deal. Though senior Left leaders were guarded with their reaction to the Government's arguments, it could be gauged that the differences of opinion on the nuclear issue between them and the Congress-led UPA were as sharp as before.

<b1>Both CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat and his counterpart in the CPI, AB Bardhan said the government’s answer would be discussed when the committee meets for the second time on September 19. But Bardhan was categorical about the Left’s stand on the nuclear issue, “We are against the 123 agreement because of the impact of the Hyde Act (on the agreement).”

The Left had posed the question on how the Hyde Act and other US domestic laws would apply to the agreement. “The government has interpreted the US laws in its own way. In the note, it said that US domestic laws would have no bearing on the agreement once US Parliament passes it,” Forward Bloc's Debabrata Biswas told HT.

The Left had also questioned the cost effectiveness of nuclear power. The government, according to Biswas, has argued that it would be both cost effective and viable. It also said that nuclear power was the only answer to India’s energy demands. “Our point is how are you saying this when there are so many other sources, like hydel power. Nuclear power should be our last option,” Biswas said.

The note, reportedly crafted by P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, also pointed out that once the deal is ratified, India would come out of nuclear isolation and uninterrupted fuel supply would be guaranteed. ``We know from earlier experience, what the US can do. The Prime Minister had also assured the Parliament about fuel supply. But our stand is that they can terminate the supply any time,'' Biswas added.

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