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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Better BacknForth on 123

Compared to the Indian Express columns of Arun Shourie and Kapil Sibal, in response to Sri Shourie, on 123 Agreement, I found the columns in The Hindu by Brahma Chellaney and Kapil Sibal, again in reponse to Sri Chellaney, to be much more clearer. I have lot of respect for Arun Shourie but his columns on 123, in IE, were hard to read and understand (I think it was just me).

Apollo wrote about Brahma Chellaney's column in The Hindu. Here is a point by point response by Sri Sibal.

Mr. Chellaney states that India bent backwards and agreed to terms that go beyond the requirements of U.S. law. The argument is a non-starter since no other similar agreement contains a termination clause, which conforms to specific provisions in the U.S. Atomic Energy Act. All agreements related to civil nuclear cooperation contain a termination clause that clothes both parties with the authority to, in the interim, suspend cooperation, without assigning reasons. The 123 Agreement with India is unique in that it provides for a one year notice of termination along with reasons. Instead of lauding our negotiators for having protected India’s interest so admirably, we are nitpicking on clauses which are in fact beneficial to our long term interests.

Mr. Chellaney then suggests that New Delhi has granted unfettered and uninfringeable rights to the U.S. to demand the return of all exported items and materials if it were to hold India in breach of stipulated conditions. The author is aware that in all other similar agreements, the right is entirely unfettered and uninfringeable and that in the 123 Agreement with India, the ambit of the right is limited by considerations which are contextual relating to India’s geographical situation and security concerns.

Further the safety net provided in the termination clause in the 123 Agreement with India is absent in all other agreements. What is a gain for India is being viewed as a sell-out. [123 Agreement: a response to Brahma Chellaney - The Hindu]