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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Most clauses Left is opposed to not binding on India

Almost all the parts of the Hyde Act the Left and Right have objected to are in the non-binding sections, writes Pramit Pal Chaudhuri.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2007 02:22 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times

What is important to understand about the Hyde Act is that it is divided into binding and non-binding parts. The non-binding parts are fluff, designed to keep congressman happy. They are not enforced and are not acted upon when the bill becomes law.

Almost all the parts the Left and Right have objected to are in the non-binding sections. And the evidence of their irrelevance lies in the fact that not one clause of the non-binding parts is present in the 123 Agreement, the only document India has to act upon. The few clauses in the binding parts that some have objected to require nothing of India. Here are the segments of the Hyde Act that are causing all the flurry. All of them are non-binding and, therefore irrelevant:

Section 102

Clause 6D which says nuclear cooperation should be granted to a country if it “will induce the country to give greater political and material support to the achievement of United States global and regional nonproliferation objectives, especially with respect to dissuading, isolating and, if necessary, sanctioning and containing states that sponsor terrorism and terrorist groups seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction capability and the means to deliver such weapons.”

Critics say this along with the more explicit Clause b4 will force India to toe the US line on Iran. But both are non-binding and neither exists in the 123 Agreement.

Section 103

Clause a5 says US policy on equipment and technologies relating to enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production should be to "further restrict the transfer of such equipment and technologies, including to India”.

The US doesn’t give these technologies to anyone and India doesn’t need them. Nonetheless, 123 doesn’t close the door but says a future amendment to 123 can be negotiated to that later. India is granted the right to reprocess US nuclear fuel if it wants.

Clause a6 says US policy should be to “seek to prevent the transfer to a country of nuclear equipment, material or technology from other participating governments in the NSG or any other source if nuclear transfers to that country are suspended or terminated pursuant to this title, the Atomic Energy Act of 1954…”

This is contradicted by Article 5, Clause 6, of the 123 Agreement which has a long list of such reassurances.

Clause b10 says "any nuclear power reactor fuel reserve provided to the government of India for use in safeguarded civilian nuclear facilities should be commensurate with reasonable reactor operating requirements”.

This could have limited India’s ability to have a strategic reserve, but it is also non-binding and contradicted by Article 5.6iii of the 123 Agreement.

One of the parts of the binding segment that some critics in India have objected to:

Section 104

Clause cF says part of the US president’s report to Congress on the deal should describe “the steps India is taking” to ensure its nuclear regulations are in harmony with the Missile Technology Control Regime, NSG, Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement… the Proliferation Security Initiative.”

This is only a report of “steps”; it doesn’t say India has to follow through and it is not in the 123 Agreement. More to the point, it is probably in India’s interest to sign up with these as they are designed to stop rogue groups getting nuclear, biological and chemical weapons technology. A.Q. Khan would object and, for some reason, so does the Left.

First Published: Aug 21, 2007 02:19 IST