Govt for amending law to counter Hyde Act
The government is "open to the idea" of amending the domestic law to counter the US Hyde Act which has been the major cause of opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal from the BJP and Left parties, highly-placed official sources said on Saturday.
Ahead of the trust vote in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the sources said the government is confident of winning it and pursuing its "unfinished agenda" of reforms in insurance, banking and pension sectors after discussions with its new ally, the Samjawadi Party.
Defending the controversial deal as one in the best interests of India, the sources maintained that India's obligations were spelt out in the bilateral 123 agreement with the United States. The Hyde Act is purely a US domestic law which cannot override the bilateral agreement, they said.
All the same, the government is "open to the idea" of amending the Atomic Energy Act to counter the Hyde Act which critics see as a legislation that puts shackles on India's right to conduct nuclear tests.
The BJP has favoured an Indian legislation to tackle the Hyde Act but the sources said that the opposition party had not not spelt out the changes it wants in the Atomic Energy Act. "We are willing to look at all options."
Meanwhile, the government appears satisfied with the response from the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) who were briefed by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon in Vinenna on Friday.
However, it is not not minimising the difficulties that may lie ahead and rejects suggestions that once the Safeguards Agreement is approved by the IAEA, the nuclear deal is on "auto pilot". "We cannot take NSG for granted. It works on the basis of consensus," the sources said.
Regretting the "hurry" with which the Left had withdrawn support to the government over the deal, the sources said that even after the approval by the NSG and the US Congress, India had the option of not not operationalising the deal if it's final shape did not not satisfy Parliament.
After the entire process of approval, India would have to file a declaration about the deal before the IAEA. Only after that would the deal be operationalised, they pointed out.
Asked if the government would go ahead with the deal even if it lost the trust vote, the sources said,"We are not not going to lose the vote. Rest is hypothetical."
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