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Government open to amending nuke law to scuttle Hyde Act

July 24, 2008 19:34 IST

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As it moves to take the next steps in the implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Indian government  has indicated its openness to consider some amendments in the Atomic Energy Act to insulate the country's strategic interests.

The possible amendments could involve inclusion of some provisions that would make it difficult for any country to adversely affect the nuclear programme through their own internal laws.

The amendments in the 1962 Act are being considered against the backdrop of apprehensions expressed by various sections that the US could invoke the Hyde Act to gag India's independent policy in the nuclear field.

Though the government has repeatedly asserted that the Hyde Act will have no say with regard to India's civil nuclear cooperation with the US, the apprehensions continue to be aired, including by scientists.

The government has said the Hyde Act is an internal law of the US and India will never accept the "prescriptive provisions" in that.

In his reply to the debate on confidence motion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] again stressed, "The strategic programme will continue to be developed at an autonomous pace determined solely by our own security perceptions." Singh said there was nothing in the agreements in connection with the Indo-US nuclear deal that prevented India from further tests if warranted by the country's national security concerns.

"We have not and we will not accept any outside interference or monitoring or supervision of our strategic programme," the prime minister added.

"The cooperation that the international community is now willing to extend to us for trade in nuclear materials, technologies and equipment for civilian use will be available to us without signing the Non Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," Singh said while seeking to allay apprehensions of the sceptics.

The prime minister rejected criticism that by signing the nuke agreement, India has surrendered its independence of foreign policy and made it subservient to US interests. 

Singh regretted that some people were spreading rumours that there are some secret or hidden agreements over and above the documents made public. "There are no secret or hidden documents other than the 123 agreement, the separation plan and the draft of the IAEA safeguards text," he said.

Singh said the country's strategic programme will continue to be developed at an autonomous pace determined solely by its own security perceptions.

Singh said the agreements India was negotiating with the US, Russia [Images], France [Images] and other nuclear countries will enable it to enter into international trade for civilian use without any interference with its strategic nuclear programme.

Singh said he was convinced that despite Left's opportunistic opposition to the nuclear agreement, history will compliment the United Progressive Alliance government for having taken another giant step forward to lead India to become a major power centre of the evolving global economy.

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