19 July :Voicing "anguish and disappointment" over absence of a "rational debate" on Indo-US nuclear deal, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday made a strong pitch for wider discussions to understand the benefits of the agreement.
The civil nuclear cooperation with the US and other countries would end nuclear isolation and help India gain access to reactors, fuel and technology in return of the promise to place certain civilian nuclear facilities under safeguards in a phased manner, Chidambaram said delivering the sixth Convocation Address at the NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad."Thanks to our nuclear isolation since 1998, the capacity utilisation of nuclear power plants has steadily declined from 90 per cent in 2001-02 to 54 per cent in 2007-08. India wishes to end this nuclear isolation," he said.
Asking lawyers, legal scholars, students and institutions like NALSAR to join the debate to help highlight the facts, he said, "If a reasoned debate had taken place, the answers to some of the issues (concerning the nuke deal) would have been self-evident and answers to other issues could have been found through application of law and logic to the facts of the case."
Devoting the larger part of his convocation address to the raging controversy over the nuke deal, Chidambaram said he was pained and disappointed to see that the issue was not being raised and answered in a "logical" manner.
"Why are lawyers and legal scholars keeping away from the debate? Why is an institution like NALSAR silent?" he wondered.
Seeking to allay fears over the impact of the deal on India’s strategic interests, Chidambaram said, "The civilian nuclear facilities to be placed under safeguards will be solely determined by India autonomously. Simultaneously, India will pursue its strategic nuclear programme without subjecting it to any safeguards or inspection."
On fears over the possible adverse impact of the Hyde Act, the domestic law of the United States, on the implementation of the 123 Agreement, the Minister said, "the Hyde Act cannot bind India and cannot interfere with the implementation of the 123 Agreement which, when ratified by the US Congress, will be a bilateral treaty between the two sovereign countries."
The US has agreed to work with friendly countries to obtain from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) a waiver for India to enable nuclear trade and cooperation with India, he said.
"Once these steps are completed, then and then alone would India be able to seek and obtain cooperation in civil nuclear energy. Such a cooperation has indeed been promised by France, Russia and United States and there is a likelihood of such cooperation from some other countries like Australia, Canada, China and Japan," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram said safeguards agreement with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of which India is a founder-member, and a waiver from NSG were "indeed pre-conditions" for India to enter into agreements for civil nuclear co-operation with other countries.
The Chancellor of NALSAR University and Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court Justice A R Dave, Vice-Chancellor Prof Ranbir Singh and state Law Minister R Chenga Reddy attended the convocation.
As many as 70 students of BA, LLB (Hons), 20 students of LLM and three students of PhD received their degrees.
More than 30 gold medals were awarded to the meritorious students in various categories.Courtsey DD NEWS