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India not bound by Hyde Act: Government
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August 16, 2007 18:23 IST

The central government on Thursday sought to allay the Left's concerns about the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying that India was not bound by the Hyde Act.

"Whatever is stated in the Hyde Act is not binding on us. How they (US) deal with it is their problem," said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. His statement came minutes after he assured other parties in Parliament that India still had the sovereign right to conduct a nuclear test and would do so if necessary.

Mukherjee said that there are many "extraneous and prescriptive" provisions in the Hyde Act, which are "not acceptable" to India.

Section 103 of the Act contains provisions about India's cooperation in containing Iran's nuclear programme and New Delhi halting fissile material production. It also suggests that the US would oppose the development of the ability to produce nuclear weapons by any non-nuclear weapon state within or outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime.  

Mukherjee said that the Hyde Act was a matter of concern between the US Congress and the US Administration, not between the legislatures of the two countries.

"Whatever is stated in the Hyde Act is not going to be our concern," he said. "It is for the US government to decide how they will respond to the laws passed by their parliament."

When queried about the Left's firm stand on the issue, Mukherjee responded, "I have direct communication with them." He is playing the trouble shooter in the government's stand-off with the Left.

"We are assured that the nuclear deal is not going to touch the strategic programme, it is not going to affect the three-stage indigenous research, the development of a peaceful nuclear energy programme and the uninterrupted supply of fuel," he said. 

However, Mukherjee refused to comment about leader of opposition Lal Krishna Advani's plans to bring in a motion seeking re-negotiation of the agreement. "We will give the appropriate response when the time comes", he said.

Mukherjee added that the Left has assured the government of a meeting after the Communist Party of India's (Marxist) two-day politburo meet begins on Friday.

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