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Renegotiate N-deal, Advani tells Centre
August 30, 2007 12:34 IST
Last Updated: August 30, 2007 20:54 IST
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishenchand Advani on Thursday called for renegotiation of the 123 Agreement after changing domestic laws to facilitate the India-United States civil nuclear deal.
He denied that his demand marked a departure from his party's original stand that the deal was unacceptable because of Washington's Hyde Act.
"A suggestion has been made recently that, as the domestic laws of the US are the ones that are causing the problem, we should examine whether we can alter our laws, such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, in such a way as to insulate our strategic objectives.
"If that can be done, we should strengthen our laws, and, on the basis of those altered laws, renegotiate the 123 Agreement," he told party MPs.
He, however, insisted his recent comments on the issue were aimed at clarifying how the BJP's opposition to the accord stemmed from considerations of pure national interest and not from any kind of anti-Americanism.
"Each of the statements has been fully deliberated upon and approved by the senior most leaders of the party under the guidance and presence of Atal Bihari Vajpayee," Advani said.
He was referring to statements of party leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, who have been vociferously criticising the Hyde Act because they feel it aimed at limiting India's nuclear options.
"These statements embody the party's considered view on every aspect of the deal. There is no change in that position," said the former deputy prime minister, a copy of whose address was circulated to reporters.
Advani said he sought to emphasise in his comments in Hyderabad that the provisions of the Hyde Act militate against India's sovereignty, especially regarding New Delhi's foreign policy.
"When enforced, they will seriously impair our nuclear weapons programme, and thereby jeopardise our strategic objectives," he said.
The 123 agreement, Advani added, was the first step toward operationalising the Hyde Act and other US laws. The agreement, he said, specifically provides that American laws will prevail after implementation of the deal.
"Hence, the provisions of the Hyde Act and other relevant laws shall apply with full force. These facts are indisputable -- and just as unacceptable. They push the country not only into a strategic partnership with the US, but a strategic subservience to the US, which the BJP cannot accept," he said.
Advani maintained that his party's call to set up a joint parliamentary committee remained in place as he rejected moves to create a mechanism involving United Progressive Alliance and Left leaders over the deal.
The BJP leader remarked that the Congress and the Left should not treat the issue as a family affair. Later, party leader Sushma Swaraj insisted that Advani made no turn-around when he spoke in Hyderabad about changes in domestic laws.
"It was the headline given by the newsdesk of a daily that created confusion. Otherwise, there is none," the BJP leader said the former deputy prime minister told party MPs that the party would take an initiative on its own in this regard if the government did not.
"Also, we want the government to change in domestic laws to protect strategic options and then renegotiate the deal with the US," Swaraj said.
She, however, said her party would also examine whether the amendments in the atomic energy act, as suggested by Advani, were satisfactory enough before going for a renegotiation.
"We want amendments to be carried out to our satisfaction," she said.