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Bush presents deal text to Congress
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

US President George W. Bush on Wednesday presented a complete package outlining the US-India civilian nuclear deal to the Congress, saying he had determined that it posed 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 the Congress is scheduled to go out of session. Berman later met all Democrats on his committee to discuss the way forward for the deal.

In his message to the Congress, Bush said the deal would offer “major strategic and economic benefits” to India and the US. “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 laws. In my judgement, it meets all applicable statutory requirements except for Section 123 a.(2) of the AEA, from which I have exempted it.”

The deal permits 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 transfer 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 the 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.

Moreover, 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.

The Hyde Act established authority to exempt the agreement from the full-scope safeguards requirement of the AEA provided that the president makes certain determinations and transmits them to the Congress together with a report detailing the basis for the determinations.

“I have made those determinations, and I am submitting them together with the required report as an enclosure to this transmittal,” Bush wrote.

Earlier on Wednesday, state department spokesman Sean McCormack said the package was “still going through the internal and inter-agency 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.



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