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US to honour N-deal: Mulford
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13
As the US Senate takes up the Indo-US nuclear deal for voting later this month, Ambassador David C. Mulford today said Washington would honour the agreement that had already been reached and there was no question of shifting of goalposts.

“The procedural movements and debates in American politics are often baffling to our friends around the world, but we will honour the agreement that has been reached. The goalposts are not being moved,” Mr Mulford said here while addressing the Third Indo-US Economic Summit today.

The Ambassador said the civil nuclear agreement, when finally implemented, would mark “a new level of trust and cooperation in our partnership”.

Mr Mulford praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent speech in the Rajya Sabha and said it reflected India’s growing confidence to become a leader in international relations and a major player in civilian nuclear power.

Implementing the legislation, better known as “123 agreement”, requires a change in the US law. The legislation is moving through the US Congress. Both the House and the Senate have marked up Bills and passed them with impressive majority. The House of Representatives had its floor vote — 359 “for” versus 68 “against”.

“If there is Senate action, we believe there will again be a large majority,” Mr Mulford said. The two Bills must then be reworked in a conference between the House and the Senate and the final Bill must be passed by both Houses for signature by President George W. Bush.

In the meantime, in order for the change in law to become effective, India and the US must complete negotiations on a bilateral Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation. Ultimately, this must be approved by the Congress in an “up or down” vote which will come after the law has been changed.

“The changes in US laws will bring about a cascade of revisions in India’s international status —opening the nuclear market not only for American companies, but also for the entire international community. This will require the Nuclear Suppliers Group to alter its rules to allow civil nuclear commerce with India. In addition, India will conclude a safeguards agreement and an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a sign of its commitment to nuclear non-proliferation,” Mr Mulford said.

The American envoy identified four concrete advantages the Indo-US nuclear deal will bestow upon India:

  • Help India meet its long-term energy needs and manage its rapidly growing demand for hydrocarbons.
  • Regularise India’s relations with other nuclear regimes and position India to play an enhanced role in the international system.
  • Stimulate opportunities for US and Indian businesses.
  • Enhance Indo-US scientific cooperation.

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