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Bush for change in US law on N-sale
Wants exemption for India

Washington, March 10
In a significant step that is expected to pave the way for the implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the White House today sent a proposal to the US Congress to change non-proliferation laws even as the opponents of the historic pact appeared to be on the warpath with the Bush administration over it.

Although details of the proposal were not immediately available, it apparently seeks an exemption for India by amending the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 which bans nuclear sales to non-NPT states.

The Bush administration has also requested the Congress to pass the first two steps in the two-part legislation by May, official sources said. The India-US civil nuclear deal was announced during President George Bushs recent visit to India.

The agreement, which was agreed in principle last July, ends a thirty-year old ban on US civilian nuclear technology sales to India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Meanwhile, in a point by point rebuttal, non-proliferation lobbyists, who are strong critics of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, hit out at the Bush administration for what they called ''promoting its effort to carve out loopholes in longstanding US and international non-proliferation rules to allow full civil nuclear trade with India.'' The non-proliferation experts, under the aegis of the Arms Control Association (ACA) put out their own fact-sheet today to counter what the White House sought to clarify in its yesterday fact sheet.

The ACA, in a statement, said the White House glosses over India's past nuclear wrongs, exaggerates the deal's supposed benefits, and downplays the possible negative ramifications of the deal as configured.

The Bush Administration has also requested Congress to pass the first two steps in the two-part legislation by May, official sources said.

The India-US civil nuclear deal was announced during President George Bush's recent visit to India.

The agreement , which was agreed in principle last July, ends a 30-year-old ban on US civilian nuclear technology sales to India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

In a major policy shift and recognising India's growing strategic importance, President Bush decided to support peaceful Indian nuclear ambition by developing its civilian atomic power industry in return for New Delhi's commitment to international nonproliferation standards.

To gain Congressional approval, India would also have to provide a ''credible'' plan for separating its civilian and military nuclear facilities to bring them under international safeguards.

The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, if implemented as envisaged by both parties, would also lift a 30-year ban on nuclear commerce between the two countries. Critics of the deal say it would trigger an arms race in the region.

But to become effective, it must first be approved by the US Congress and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Groups. UNI

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