"The Act is a domestic legislation and the 123 is an international accord' Centre concedes presence of some "prescriptive and extraneous' elements in the Hyde Act Pranab says India's rights and obligation arise only from the 123 Agreement agreed upon NEW DELHI: The United States has said the Hyde Act will have to be considered while operationalising the civilian nuclear agreement with India but indicated that it is unlikely for the legislation to impinge on the agreement. "The Hyde Act is a domestic legislation and the 123 Agreement is an international agreement. I think we can move forward with both in a consistent manner,' Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told newspersons after meeting senior External Affairs Ministry officials here on the first day of his visit. Mr. Boucher made the observation when asked whether the Hyde Act would have any bearing on the nuclear deal. He met Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Joint Secretary (Americas) Gaytri Kumar. He said both sides discussed ways by which they could advance this "very important' relationship. Objections Political parties here have objected to some provisions in the Henry J. Hyde U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act such as requiring the U.S. President to annually certify whether India is participating in the U.S. and international efforts to check proliferation, including dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapon producing capabilities. It also has clauses on the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Wassenaar Arrangement. But New Delhi maintains that the Hyde Act is an enabling provision that is between the legislative and executive wings of the U.S. government and will not have a bearing on the nuclear deal. However, it concedes the presence of some "prescriptive and extraneous' elements. Rice statement The waters were stirred after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs panel last month that "we will support nothing with India that is in contradiction to the Hyde Act. It will have to be completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act. We'll have to be consistent with the Hyde Act or I don't believe we can count on Congress to make the next step.' In Parliament, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday insisted that India's rights and obligation on civilian nuclear cooperation rose only from the 123 Agreement that "we have agreed upon.' Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury has said the Hyde Act will severely compromise the country's sovereignty and independent foreign policy. He agreed with Mr. Mukherjee's observations that the Hyde Act is an enabling provision, but pointed out the U.S. administration could enter into a civil nuclear cooperation arrangement under the conditions listed in the legislation.

In voting for the further tightening of international sanctions against Iran despite the satisfactory resolution of all concrete issues surrounding its previous nuclear activities, the United Nations Security Council has wilfully and unnecessarily escalated a crisis that was heading towards a peaceful end. When Iran's nuclear file was sent to the UNSC in 2006, there was one major and several minor outstanding issues that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claimed were standing in the way of certification of the absence of "undeclared nuclear activities.' The major issue was the extent of work Iran might have done on the P-1 and P-2 centrifuge designs bought from the clandestine network run by A.Q. Khan. The minor issues were (a) establishing the source of enriched uranium contamination on equipment at an Iranian technical university; (b) explaining the procurement activities of the Physics Research Centre (PHRC); (c) understanding why Iran had conducted experiments with Polonium-210; (d) understanding the significance of a document on the casting of uranium metal that Iran said it was given by the Khan network; and (e) resolving the status and extent of work undertaken at the Gchine uranium mine. The IAEA also said it had questions based on documents provided to it by other member states (to wit, the United States) suggesting that Iran might have engaged in additional studies and research on warhead design and uranium conversion. In diplomatic discussions of the Iranian nuclear file, these alleged studies invariably figured last. Not anymore. Now that the IAEA, in its latest report dated February 22, has pronounced itself satisfied with Iran's explanation of all five outstanding issues (the P-1 and P-2 question was resolved last year itself), these "alleged studies' (as the IAEA itself terms them) have become the new focal point of U.S.-led efforts to pressure the Islamic Republic to give up its right to pursue a civilian nuclear fuel cycle. Resolution 1803

If the Security Council were truly concerned about Iran's nuclear programme, it would have lifted sanctions in the light of the IAEA's latest report and thereby secured Iranian adherence to the Additional Protocol. On Monday evening, the United Nations Security Council voted 14-0 with one abstention to impose a fresh set of sanctions against Iran for failing to suspend its civilian nuclear fuel cycle programme. The resolution had the backing of not just the United States, Britain and France but also Russia and China. The latter two, who have made much of their official commitment to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue, justified their support for the latest resolution by adver tising the absence of any reference to the "use of force' in its language. But this reading of the text is wilfully na

India's efforts to firm up a safeguards agreement with the IAEA have a moved a decisive step forward with the agency today for the first time giving a firm statement that both sides were "close to

The Congress on Tuesday gave a clear indication that following the "convergence of views' in the India-specific safeguards agreement talks at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this weekend, the UPA government was all set to go ahead with the India-U.S. nuclear agreement. Even as the Left parties reiterated their opposition to the deal in response to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's suo motu statement on foreign policy in Parliament on Monday, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said: "We are happy at the significant progress made at the IAEA talks [over the weekend]. We are particularly happy that vast and diverse areas of differences [towards India-specific safeguards] have been ironed out in the fifth round and we are optimistic about the outcome of the talks at IAEA.' In his statement, Mr. Singhvi categorically conveyed that "with the broad agreement in the IAEA and with the virtual acceptance of most, if not all, of India's concerns,' the Congress was confident of a "reasonable approach by all sections [Left parties] of the joint mechanism' on the deal. "As far as the Congress is concerned, it is committed to the deal and reiterates that it will be beneficial to the country. With this new development of convergence of views in the fifth round of talks, we are optimistic, hopeful and positive. The deal is in the interest of the nation,' he asserted. An India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA would enable the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to amend its guidelines for civilian nuclear commerce to the advantage of India. This would enable India to have bilateral civilian nuclear trade cooperation with countries like the U.S., the U.K., Russia and France. Safeguards issue Asked about the Left's concerns on the Hyde Act, Mr. Singhvi said the talks at the IAEA were about India-specific safeguards, most of which had been addressed. A senior Congress leader indicated that after waiving farmers' debt, the Congress-led UPA hopes to bring the nuclear deal centre stage in this crucial election year.

No, it's not over: PM July 2008 is the very last deadline for the Indo-US nuclear deal to reach the US Congress, according to three US Senators, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today. This means that India will have to sew up the India-specific safeguards agreement with the 35-nation IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and obtain the approval of the 45-nation NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) before presenting the nuclear deal to the US Congress - and all this will have to be done before July. Or else, the Bush administration will not be able to consider the deal, arguably the centerpiece in Indo-US strategic partnership. The Senators who met Manmohan Singh and national security adviser M.K. Narayanan were John Kerry, Joseph Biden (both Democrats) and Chuck Hagel (Republican). The Senators discussed the entire gamut of Indo-US relations with the Prime Minister, later addressed the media here. The senators were in New Delhi en route from Pakistan where they observed the recent national elections. Biden, who heads the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, quoted the Prime Minister as saying that the deal was

In a volte-face, Australia's new government told an Indian envoy that it will not sell uranium to India unless New Delhi signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Reversing a decision taken by

after nine hours of debate on the India- usa nuclear deal in the Rajya Sabha, the position of the Left and the opposition parties remained the same. They made it clear that their stand had not

The recent civil nuclear cooperation proposed by the Bush Administration and the Government of India has heightened the necessity of assessing India

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