M A I N   N E W S

N-deal by year-end, hopes US envoy
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
The US Congress is likely to pass the Bill regarding civilian nuclear cooperation by next month end after which the stage will be set for India passing the muster at such world fora as International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), US Ambassador David C Mulford said today.

The American envoy said India was “too important to leave outside the international nuclear architecture” and added that “We will move fairly quickly towards conclusion of 123 agreement.”

He said the 123 Agreement was more complicated and therefore would take more time to be concluded, though he appeared confident that the entire process for implementing the nuclear deal would be over by the year-end. The agreement refers to the Section of the Atomic Energy Act that defines the nonproliferation conditions that such agreements must contain and the procedures for Congressional review and approval.

Mr Mulford predicted that once the legislation gets Congressional approval, it will be difficult for the 30-nation IAEA and 45-nation NSG to place hurdles in international nuclear commerce with India “because they (the IAEA and the NSG) would then feel that the bus may leave without them on board.”

The American envoy expressed confidence that the July 18, 2005 US-India nuclear deal would be implemented by this year end. He emphasized that the deal was India-specific and there was no question of the US agreeing to a similar deal with other countries.

“It is a major historical stuff. It is totally unique and special to India. It is a historical achievement that reflects the special relationship between the US and India,” Mr Mulford said while briefing diplomatic correspondents on the Indo-US deal.

He said the Bush administration now looked forward to accomplish floor action as the Congress would take up the legislation for discussion July 10 onwards. The Congress goes into recess from August 1. Mr Mulford would leave for the US ten days later.

There is a strong possibility that the two Bills, passed by Senate Committee on Foreign Relations yesterday 16-2 and by the House of Representatives’ Committee on International Relations on Thursday 37-5, may be rationalised. The different languages of the two Bills is likely to remain, unless the two houses agreed for a uniform language.

The House Committee Bill had a reference to the Iran issue but the Senate Committee Bill did not have any such reference Mr Mulford insisted that the mention of Iran in the draft bill passed by the House Committee was “not a rider” to the nuclear deal.

The two house committee’s bills may be amalgamated and a single bill may be put up before the Senate and the House for consideration. Mr Mulord said the amalgamation exercise could be done in a give-and take manner.

“The entire process is to be completed by year-end. But the key step is the Congress changing the law. First steps in this direction were taken in the last three days. But this is not the end of the story and a lot of more work still remains to be done,” the American envoy said.





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