Sandeep Dikshit

“The Act is a domestic legislation and the 123 is an international accord”

Centre concedes presence of some “prescriptive and extraneous” elements in the Hyde Act

Pranab says India’s rights and obligation arise only from the 123 Agreement agreed upon

NEW DELHI: The United States has said the Hyde Act will have to be considered while operationalising the civilian nuclear agreement with India but indicated that it is unlikely for the legislation to impinge on the agreement.

“The Hyde Act is a domestic legislation and the 123 Agreement is an international agreement. I think we can move forward with both in a consistent manner,” Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told newspersons after meeting senior External Affairs Ministry officials here on the first day of his visit.

Mr. Boucher made the observation when asked whether the Hyde Act would have any bearing on the nuclear deal. He met Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Joint Secretary (Americas) Gaytri Kumar.

He said both sides discussed ways by which they could advance this “very important” relationship.

Objections

Political parties here have objected to some provisions in the Henry J. Hyde U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act such as requiring the U.S. President to annually certify whether India is participating in the U.S. and international efforts to check proliferation, including dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapon producing capabilities.

It also has clauses on the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

But New Delhi maintains that the Hyde Act is an enabling provision that is between the legislative and executive wings of the U.S. government and will not have a bearing on the nuclear deal. However, it concedes the presence of some “prescriptive and extraneous” elements.

Rice statement

The waters were stirred after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs panel last month that “we will support nothing with India that is in contradiction to the Hyde Act. It will have to be completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act. We’ll have to be consistent with the Hyde Act or I don’t believe we can count on Congress to make the next step.”

In Parliament, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday insisted that India’s rights and obligation on civilian nuclear cooperation rose only from the 123 Agreement that “we have agreed upon.”

Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury has said the Hyde Act will severely compromise the country’s sovereignty and independent foreign policy.

He agreed with Mr. Mukherjee’s observations that the Hyde Act is an enabling provision, but pointed out the U.S. administration could enter into a civil nuclear cooperation arrangement under the conditions listed in the legislation.

‘Historic agreement’

In a State Department briefing in Washington, its deputy spokesman Tom Casey said: “We do believe this is an important agreement; an historic agreement really, between India and the United States, and we would like to see it move forward….we want to see it concluded as quickly as possible. But ultimately, the Indian government needs to be fully comfortable with it and they need to be able to move things forward.

“It would be a shame if this opportunity, though, for both sides was lost, and we certainly therefore hope that we can reach an agreement as soon as possible.”

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