M A I N   N E W S

US House debates on N-deal before vote
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

The House of Representatives was expected to approve a US-India nuclear cooperation agreement following a debate scheduled for late Wednesday afternoon, according to congressional sources.

The House act seeks to waive restrictions under sections of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 once the President has determined that India has provided the USA and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with a “credible plan” to separate civil and military nuclear facilities, materials and programmes, and has filed a declaration regarding its civilian facilities with the IAEA.

The President must also ascertain that India and the IAEA have concluded an agreement requiring the application of IAEA safeguards in perpetuity and are making “substantial progress” toward concluding an Additional Protocol that would apply to India’s civil nuclear programme.

The deal can only become effective if the President submits to Congress the agreement concluded between the US and India, including a copy of the safeguards agreement entered into between the IAEA and India.

According to the Act, beginning one month after the date of its enactment and until the President submits the required documents to Congress, he should consult with the House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the status of the negotiations between the US and India with respect to civilian nuclear cooperation and between the IAEA and India with respect to the safeguards agreement.

The Act seeks India’s full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative, a public announcement of its decision to conform its export laws, regulations and policies with the Australia Group and the Wassennaar Arrangement and show progress toward implementing this decision.

The Act also includes a contentious issue of ensuring India’s support for US efforts to “dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons capability, and the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction.” This condition, while non-binding, was introduced by Congressman Tom Lantos, a California Democrat and Holocaust survivor.

The House International Relations Committee earlier voted by an overwhelming majority of 37-5 to approve the civilian nuclear cooperation bill, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a similar bill by 16-2.

Writing in The Washington Times on Wednesday, Tom Pickering and Frank Wisner noted that the House vote would mean President George W. Bush, “marching hand-in-hand with Congress, will be a step closer to a foreign policy trophy commensurable with Nixon’s opening to China: a flourishing strategic partnership with India.”

“Cementing this partnership would overcome decades of unrealistic and futile attempts to force India to abandon its nuclear arsenal while sandwiched between two nuclear-armed rivals,” the two former US Ambassadors to India wrote.

“Prospects for enactment are sanguine during the 106th Congress,” they said.

“To vote for civil nuclear cooperation with India is to vote on the right side of history, for nonproliferation, and in the US supreme national interests,” Mr Pickering and Mr Wisner concluded.

For the deal to be a success, both the House and the Senate must approve the bill. However, a Senate debate and vote is not expected until September.




HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |