30 August 2007

123 Agreement & The Hyde Act

There is a lot of uproar as to whether the communists are right or wrong in their opposition towards the 123 Nuclear Agreement between India and the United States of America.

Somehow, I think the communists have got it right this time.

But first, as good researchers do, let me cite the sources to the relevant agreements.

This is the source for the 123 agreement.

Now, as you read the agreement, you should also revisit the Hyde act.

While there is lot of debate as to whether the Hyde act is binding upon India or not, I urge the reader to read it for himself/herself.

Now, why is this Hyde Act important ? It is important for two reasons. Firstly, as I read it in the CNN-IBN interview of Karan Thapar with Sitaram Yechury, it seems to provide means for the US constitution to bypass some of their domestic laws, so that they can go ahead with the 123 agreement. That seems to be one of the viewpoints of some people in India, that the Hyde Act is actually necessary, for India and US to go ahead with the 123 agreement.

This view point is entirely folly ! Why? It shows that the US can have domestic laws that can supersede any international agreements. Given this, what is the guarantee that future USA governments cannot/will not execute a domestic law that will supersede the 123 agreement ? Let's pause for a moment and think about this. Here is a country that needs a domestic law for it to sign an international agreement. Why ? It could be that it is the way their internal constitution is framed. We are not going to argue about that. But is there any sort of guarantee or something that a different domestic law will not overrule the 123 agreement ?

So, it is now, in some sense clear, that the Hyde Act is the main enabler for the 123 Agreement.

Now, what does the Hyde Act say ? It lays down some important conditions and provisions which gravely threaten our nuclear sovereignty. Let me point the reader to a link which summarizes pretty much the same thoughts that I had about this Hyde Act. For example, it lays down clauses and conditions under which we can process spent nuclear fuel and such.

If the main purpose of the Hyde Act is to enable to US constitution to bypass its domestic laws and sign the 123 agreement, why must it lay down clauses for India regarding the way we go about dealing with the spent nuclear fuel ? Why must it lay down rules regarding our stand/views/opinions with respect to countries like Iran ? Why must it mandate the US president to report to their constitution about our co-operation ?

While some are arguing that there is no connection between 123 agreement and the Hyde Act, a careful reading of both these acts tells a different picture.

To sum it up, if the Hyde Act is necessary to go ahead with the 123 agreement, then the same Hyde Act can be used to make sure we dance to the diktat's of the US constitution.

While the reasons for opposition by the communists may sound silly, given their propensity to oppose anything that is related to US, actually, the reasons given by the BJP for opposing this bill seem to be more practical and authentic.

I now side myself with the BJP and the communists on this issue.

I have a question of my own for Mr.Manmohan Singh though. Firstly, if you have not yet noticed it, US needed a separate law of their own to clear the 123 agreement. That being the case, why did you not table the entire 123 agreement and the Hyde Act in our parliament and get a voice vote or something ? If you were absolutely sure that the act is in India's interests, what made you think that it would not be
passed ?


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Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 9:24 PM


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