M A I N   N E W S

123 Moves
Bush invites PM to White House on 25th
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

President George W. Bush on Wednesday presented a complete package on the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal to Congress saying he had determined that it poses no “unreasonable risk” to security and should be approved this year.

Sources said the package was given to California Democratic Congressman Howard Berman and Delaware Democratic Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. Berman chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee while Biden, who is also the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nominee, heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Bush Administration hopes to win ratification of the agreement before September 26 when Congress is scheduled to go out of session. In a statement on Thursday, the White House said President Bush “looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House on September 25.”

It said the meeting would “strengthen the strategic partnership and build upon our progress in other areas of cooperation, such as agriculture, education, trade and defence.”

In his message to Congress, Bush said the deal would offer “major strategic and economic benefits” to India and the U.S.

“The agreement will reinforce the growing bilateral relationship between two vibrant democracies. The US is committed to a strategic partnership with India, the agreement promises to be a major milestone in achieving and sustaining that goal,” he said.

As per the requirements of the Hyde Act and the Atomic Energy Act, Bush transmitted his “written determination concerning the agreement, including my approval of the agreement and my authorisation to execute the agreement, and an unclassified Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) concerning the agreement.”

He enclosed a joint memorandum submitted to him by the secretary of state and the secretary of energy and a letter from the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stating the views of the commission.

Bush noted: “The proposed agreement has been negotiated in accordance with the AEA and other applicable law. In my judgment, it meets all applicable statutory requirements, except for Section 123 a.(2) of the AEA, from which I have exempted it.”

The deal permits the transfer of information, non-nuclear material, nuclear material, equipment (including reactors) and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production to India.

It does not permit transfers of any restricted data. “Sensitive nuclear technology, heavy-water production technology and production facilities, sensitive nuclear facilities, and major critical components of such facilities may not be transferred under the agreement unless the agreement is amended,” Bush said in the note.

The agreement permits reprocessing and other alterations in form or content of nuclear material. However, these rights will not come into effect until India establishes a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and both parties agree on arrangements and procedures under which the reprocessing or other alteration in form or content will take place.

The agreement will remain in force for a period of 40 years and will continue in force thereafter for additional periods of 10 years each unless either party gives notice to terminate it six months before the end of a period. Either party has the right to terminate the agreement prior to its expiration on a year’s written notice to the other party.

“A party seeking early termination of the agreement has the right immediately to cease cooperation under the agreement, prior to termination, if it determines that a mutually acceptable resolution of outstanding issues cannot be achieved through consultations,” Bush said.

In the note, Bush recognises India as a “non-nuclear weapon state for NPT and AEA purposes, even though it possesses nuclear weapons.”

Earlier on Wednesday, state department spokesman Sean McCormack said the package was “still going through the internal and interagency clearance process, and there are a number of administrative steps that you need to take in order to formally transmit something from the executive branch up to the legislative branch.

“But I think … we’re on a track to get that up there, pending that last piece from India and the IAEA.”

An Indian official later in the day told the Tribune that all pieces were in place. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said New Delhi had “given all that is required for a presidential determination” to complete the package.

“Clearly, the momentum has started building,” another source said.




Bilateral pacts
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
India said on Thursday it would move towards finalising bilateral agreements on civil nuclear energy cooperation with countries like France and Russia, though "actual cooperation" would begin only after the 123 agreement with the US came into force.

"Following the Nuclear Suppliers' Group statement, which enables civil nuclear cooperation by NSG members with India, the government is taking steps to realise commercial cooperation with foreign partners in the field," external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said in a statement.

"We have informed the USA about our intent to source state-of-the-art nuclear technologies and facilities based on the provisions of the 123 Agreement from the US.

“The government is also moving towards finalising bilateral agreements with other friendly partner countries such as France and Russia.’’

The spokesman said while actual cooperation would commence after the 123 agreement was operationalised, "the Nuclear Power Cooperation of India has already commenced a preliminary dialogue with US companies in this regard".

The statement came amid attempts by the Bush Administration to push the nuclear agreement through the US Congress.

Meanwhile, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan today briefed the cabinet on the NSG meeting at Vienna.




Australia again says no uranium supply
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
Australia today stuck to its position that it would not be able to supply uranium to India despite the waiver given by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but expressed confidence that this would not prevent the two countries from taking their bilateral ties to new heights.

Replying to questions at a lecture on ‘Australia and India: A new partnership in the Asia-Pacific century’, visiting Australian minister for foreign affairs Stephen Smith said India and Australia were on the verge of taking their relationship to a new level and the two countries “should not be deterred by things on which we may not have agreement”.

Smith, who is visiting India for the first time at the invitation of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had indicated that he would very much like to visit India before the end of the year and this follows the successful meeting between him and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the G8 Summit in Japan in July.

On the question of uranium supply, he said: “We have a long standing commitment to NPT and we don’t want to do anything undermining the NPT. It is not aimed against India but is a domestic political approach and we have had a long standing adherence to NPT but this did not impact our role at NSG”.



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