NATIONAL

Chidambaram: Hyde Act can’t bind India

HYDERABAD: Asserting that the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal was aimed at ending the country’s “nuclear isolation” and gaining access to technology, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on Saturday that it would continue to pursue its strategic nuclear programme without subjecting itself to any safeguards or inspection.

The Minister sought to allay apprehensions over the impact of the Hyde Act claiming that the 123-Agreement, once voted “up” (ratified) by the U.S. Congress would be the last expression of the legislature and would prevail over any previous domestic law. And, “Article VI (2) of the U.S. Constitution mandates that all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the U.S. would be the `supreme law’ of the land.”

“In any view of the matter, the Hyde Act, which is a domestic law, cannot bind India and cannot interfere with the implementation of the 123 Agreement which, when ratified by the U.S. Congress, will be a bilateral treaty between two sovereign countries,” he said. Moreover, even after the 123 agreement came into force, India and the U.S. could enter into further agreements to fulfil the objectives on an industrial or commercial scale, Mr. Chidambaram, said, participating in the sixth annual convocation of the Nalsar University of Law here.

Following the nuclear isolation since 1998, capacity utilisation of the country’s nuclear power 4,120 MW had come down steadily from 90 per cent in 2001-02 to 54 per cent in 2007-08, he said.

It was decided to secure access to technology in return for the promise that certain civilian nuclear facilities – to be solely determined by India autonomously – would be segregated and placed under safeguards in a phased manner. An agreement with the IAEA and a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group were ‘indeed pre-conditions’ and the country could obtain civil nuclear cooperation with other countries.

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