In an interview with The Hindu, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was guarded on the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Deal only to list the concerns that the Indian establishment still hankers but also said that these are issues that can be clarified. The Hyde Act as it is now called, was passed by the US Congress in December 2006 in a landmark voting taking bilateral relations to a higher level qualitatively.
AEC Chairman Anil Kakodkar admitted to his interviewer that there were differences between the July 2005 statement of US President George Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the March 2006 separation plan on the one hand and the Hyde Act on the other. While the legislation was being discussed, several US lawmakers tried to introduce conditions extraneous to the June 2005 and March 2006 statements which were the “basis” for the deal. While most of the “extraneous” conditions were ultimately left out, some “still remain” in the Act.
Some of these “concerns” that “still remain” that need clarification include freedom to pursue its “strategic programme,” freedom to test a nuclear device if situations require it to break its unilateral moratorium, lifetime supply of nuclear fuel, and autonomy to follow its three-stage (thermal, fast, and thorium) nuclear energy program. Indian experience with the US, as in Tharapur case, has not been positive that despite a “1-2-3 Agreement,” the US unilaterally stopped the supply of fuel. Additionally, Washington tries to stop shipment of fuel to Tharapur every time. New Delhi fears that without concrete guarantees, its fuel supply problems may be compounded because it would have expanded its nuclear facilities and economy based on nuclear fuel, should the US decide to again unilaterally abrogate the treaty.
In its defense, the US argues that it stopped the fuel supply to Tharapur because of the “peaceful” Indian explosion of 1974 and subsequent refusal to roll-back its nuclear weapons program. However, that should not have stopped the US from working within the ambit of that “1-2-3 Agreement” to find a reasonable settlement. The US says that Cold War politics and personal animosity between leaders of both nations pretty much scuttled understanding but in the new world order, the two nations should actualize potential to the full based on globalization, democracy, and stability.
While the reporter from The Hindu tried to put words into Kakodkar’s mouth by asking leading questions, the interlocutor himself was guarded indicating that while the Hyde Act as written may tantamount to “shifting of goalposts,” it is possible to “negotiate this whole process” in the “1-2-3 Agreement” albeit “quite well.”