[Reader-list] Reading Radhilarajen and the Hyde Act/123 Deal
shuddha at sarai.net
Wed Jun 18 21:57:28 IST 2008
It is interesting that you mention the Hyde Act, and its supposed
role vis-a-vis the so called "123 treaty" on Nuclear Co-Operation
between the United States and India in one of your recent posts in
the thread on "Gujarati Pride".You have done this, while making some
ad-hominem attacks on journalists of the CNN-IBN channel (for whom I
hold no brief, for and against) for being 'obviously on someone's
payroll' etc. I find it interesting that you have to jump from an
imputed defence of the person or persons who have brought a specious
case against Ashis Nandy, to a rant on governance and finally to your
casual observations on the Indo-US Nuclear deal. What connects these
disparate threads remains a mystery to me.
I think you need to be careful when saying things like 'being on
payrolls'. Such speculations, are deeply unethical, and do not aid
the climate of a healthy discussion. In any case, whether or not
'they' (whoseover they may be) are indeed on someone's payroll is a
fact that neither aids nor damages your argument. Especially all
those who oppose the said (nuclear) deal do not necessarily oppose
Modi, and all those who support Modi do not necessarily oppose the
deal. So I don't quite understand why, in trying to argue about the
treatment that Narendra Damodarbhai Modi gets in the media, you have
to unnecessarily drag in the question of the so called Nuclear deal.
Is there some kind of special training you have received of trying to
distract your audience whenever you are criticized on the basis of
the logic of your argument?
I will spend some time trying to think through the issues that you
have raised, because, the kind of loose reasoning that you bring to
this list needs, in my opinion, a redressal, from time to time.
Now, what is the Hyde Act, what exactly is the 123 Treaty
These matters need a little clarification.
The Hyde Act, or, the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful
Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006, to give the act its full
title, is a piece of legislation, introduced by Congressman Henry
Hyde, passed by the US Congress, which creates the legal basis (under
US Law) for co-operation between the United States and India.
US law, ordinarily, declares that the United States cannot enter into
nuclear collaboration with a country that is not governed by the
Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty. India, Israel, and Pakistan are countries that have not
joined the NPT and the CTBT. North Korea joined, but later withdrew.
Iran, for instance, is a signatory. (which is why it has to allow for
International Atomic Energy Agency inspections, which it does, dodgily)
US law permits the United States to enter into nuclear energy
collaboration with declared non-nuclear weapons states who have
signed the NPT and the CTBT under section 123 (titled -
"Cooperation with Other Nations") of the United States Atomic Energy
Act of 1954. Hence, the United States enters into '123 Agreements'
with other countries. At the present moment, 25 such agreements have
been signed, including with countries such as Morocco, Ukraine,
The Hyde Act, which incidentally includes provisions inserted by
Democratic representative for Illinois, Barack Obama to restrict fuel
supplies to India at a scale commensurate only with "reasonable
civilian reactor requirements" is in a way, a one-time only exemption
being made by US lawmakers with regard to India. It may come as
surprise to some, but the United States has refused, and continues to
refuse to make the same exemption even for its close ally, Israel.
Some of the people (both CPI-M and BJP, for instance) who say that
the Hyde Act and provisions of the 123 are discriminatory towards
India, forget that the acts in themselves represent an exception that
the United States is prepared to make for India, but not even for
Israel. Israel has recently lobbied with the US government for an
extension of the same treatment, effectively saying that the US
government is unfairly favouring India over Israel.
see - a recent AP news report to this effect at -
Indeed, the Hyde Act puts limitations on the scope of the 123 Treaty.
And we might ask, why not? A nuclear power is making a special case
for relating to another nuclear power that has not joined the NPT or
the CTBT (that the US has not either is another, not un-interesting
fact, but nothing compels the United States government to enter into
treaties with itself, hence this, strictly speaking is of no
consequence), and in doing so, it might wish to maintain some
Those who oppose the Indo-US nuclear deal on the grounds that it
discriminates against India are wrong. It makes a special case for
India, despite Inida's status as a non-signatory to the NPT and CTBT
and in a sense puts the Indo-US relationship on an even closer
footing (in the specific instance of nuclear cooperation) than US-
Those who support the Indo-US nuclear deal on the grounds that it
places no limitations on India are also wrong. Because, the Hyde Act
clearly places limitations in the events of testing, or any trace of
military use (which have to be verified by the IAEA).
Both (Indian Pro and Anti Nuclear Deal partisans) see a perfectly
ordinary piece of legislation through the lens of Indian
exceptionalism. In one case, by refusing to see that India is not
discriminated against (because provisions are made for India that are
not in force for Israel) on the other hand by refusing to see that
India is treated just like any other country that has signed the 123
agreement is treated. Why should India be treated any differently
from Morocco. What makes India, so special?
My take on this is very simple, and I have said it before on this
list. We do not need nuclear weapons. Hence, the Indian government
should be pressuriezed to sign the NPT and the CTBT, and then, the
debate on whether we need nuclear energy supplies can have a real
meaning. This debate would be on the ecological and political
implications of nuclear power as a source of energy per se.
Until that occurs, there is nothing to be gained by moving close to
the United States, or Russia, or France, or any other nuclear power
for obtaining nuclear supplies. Those opposed to the deal are barking
up the wrong tree if they think that there can be better 'deals' on
offer. The only 'better deal' on the terms that these people set, are
the ones that place on limits or caveats on testing and further
weaponization. In other words, those, such as the CPI(M) and the BJP
that oppose the deal, do so, only because they want to keep building
bombs. Those that support the deal, are somehow convinced that the
deal wont stop them from testing and building bombs, which is why
they tell the opponents of the deal that nothing changes once the
deal is signed. Both parties speak from a position that clearly wants
to keep building bombs and testing, one with and another without the
operationalization of the deal. It would be good were a real public
debate on this fact to occur, instead of the pro and anti US shadow
boxing that generally takes place in its stead. If this list is a
space where this could occur, (clearly, it is not happening in the
mainstream media, again) it would be a welcome thing.
I hope I have made myself abundantly clear.
The Sarai Programme at CSDS
Raqs Media Collective
shuddha at sarai.net
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