M A I N   N E W S

India not to cap N-programme
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The Manmohan Singh Government believes that the 37/5 mark-up or vote in the House International Relations Committee in Washington yesterday outlines the legal basis for full Indo-US cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The essence of the amendments pertain to three essential waivers available to the US President for making a determination before exercising the waiver, according to authoritative sources.

The bipartisan support to the Indo-US deal on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the House International Relations Committee sets the tone for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which is scheduled to take up the Bill on Thursday.

It is apparent that various elements and expectations of the US Congress have sought to be dovetailed in the Bill by the administration of President George Bush in keeping with its aims and policies for India and South Asia.

Sources said India is bound by the elements of the July 18, 2005, far-reaching agreement on the Indo-US nuclear deal. The action of the US Administration is to get legislation passed in the Congress to engage in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with India.

Sources observed that most importantly the waiver authority has been unambiguously provided for and the handsome majority extended to the Bill in the U S House International Relations Committee revealed that the measure has not fallen prey to the polarisation between the Republicans and the Democrats. There is guarded optimism that this might be reflected during the vote in the full House as well.

New Delhi was not expecting any surprise element and hoping that the Bill will be passed before the Congress goes into a recess.

The actual operation of the Indo-US nuclear deal will take effect once the 123 Agreement has been concluded. The two sides are working on the draft agreement which will also be presented to the Congress for adoption.

Moves are afoot to get the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to reorient their guidelines by following the template emerging in the US-Congress which was expected fairly soon. Thereafter, the India specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA will be finalised. A follow up team from the IAEA in Vienna is expected here next week for discussion on the safeguards.

New Delhi has made its position clear that there was no question of accepting in the 123 Agreement any reference to the consequences in case India went ahead in exploding a nuclear device. India’s track record in this regard is well known and has in place a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing.

If India were to implode a nuclear device, the Indo-US nuclear deal will cease. If the moratorium is broken then New Delhi will face the consequences without this aspect figuring in any form in the 123 Agreement. The UPA government is firm this aspect of fresh nuclear testing cannot figure in the 123 Agreement.

Sources said “we are not quite there” about the Indo-US nuclear deal as the negotiations on the 123 Agreement are yet to be concluded. As is only to be expected certain aspects are not easy to resolve. The second round of the Indo-US technical level talks will be held in the second half of July thereby providing breathing space to reflect on some issues.

Even though the Indo-US nuclear deal is a one time waiver and without any conditionalities, “we can’t let it be an albatross around our necks. There cannot be an informal or ideological veto of our foreign policy objectives coupled with the great clarity of the reality of our domestic politics,” the sources added. 


Senate panel to take up Bill today

Washington, June 28
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was originally scheduled to take up for fine-tuning its version of a Bill on the Indo-US nuclear deal today, has now postponed it to tomorrow.

The 18-member Senate panel will consider and vote on an original Lugar-Biden Bill to exempt US exports to India of nuclear material, equipment and technology from certain requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. — PTI





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