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India upset over Bush determination on deal
Recent contentions not in line with provisions of pact
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13
India has strongly conveyed to the US its displeasure over how the mutually agreed terms of the Indo-US civilian nuclear energy cooperation understanding were sought to be distorted by the Bush administration as was reflected by the contradictory statements emanating from Washington.

Highly placed sources in the government said New Delhi had unambiguously told the US that the recent contentions made by the administration were not in line with the provisions of the agreement between the two sides.

Asked if New Delhi had issued a demarche to the US in this regard, the sources said “We can’t call it a demarche but our views about the contents of the two recent communications have been made known to them in no uncertain manner.”

The sources were referring to a communication from the US State Department to the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the presidential determination sent by George W. Bush to the US Congress for approval of the 123 agreement.

The US State Department communication of January 2008 came as a bombshell to India on the eve of a crucial meeting of the nuclear suppliers’ group (NSG) in Vienna early this month to consider the India-specific waiver. It specified that the US would immediately halt nuclear trade with India if New Delhi conducted a nuclear test.

This led to a political storm in India with the opposition charging the government with surrendering the country’s right to conduct a test. The government, however, preferred not to react immediately since it was busy monitoring the developments in Vienna where some countries were refusing to budge from their position that strings must be attached to the waiver being given to India.

The heat on the controversial communication had not even died down when Bush on Wednesday sent the 123 agreement to the US Congress for consideration along with the presidential determination in which he stated that the fuel supply assurance under the Indo-US nuclear deal was not legally binding on Washington and it was only a political commitment.

Indian officials said they were taken aback by the presidential determination and the way in which the Bush administration had sought to interpret the 123 agreement. “The agreement clearly states that it is the responsibility of the US to ensure uninterrupted fuel supplies, even if it terminates its own cooperation with India due to some reason,” one official said.

Unhappy over the presidential determination, the External Affairs Ministry issued a statement last night, maintaining that India would be guided solely by the 123 agreement, the text of which was agreed upon between the two sides. “The India-US civil nuclear cooperation will be carried out on the basis of the respective rights and obligations of the two sides as contained in the agreement. By doing so, the government will ensure that India’s right are fully protected,” the spokesman of the ministry said.

The ruling coalition is worried that the statements coming from Washington could mar the euphoria across the country over India securing an unprecedented waiver from the NSG to engage in nuclear trade to meet its growing energy needs.

Meanwhile, top nuclear scientists are also upset over the President Bush’s specifying that fuel supply assurances were not legally binding. Former Atomic Energy Commission chairman M R Srinivasan said the US must preserve the sanctity of international agreements.



US: N-deal will help non-proliferation

Washington, September 13
With the Indo-US nuclear deal waiting to get the Congress approval, the state department has said the initiative will help meet India’s growing energy requirements and strengthen the non-proliferation regime by welcoming India into internationally accepted nonproliferation standards and practices.

Issuing a fact sheet on the civilian nuclear initiative, the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs also expressed hope to get the deal approved by the US Congress.

“This initiative establishes a firm foundation for additional nonproliferation and counter proliferation cooperation, areas we fully intend to advance through the course of our strategic partnership,” the state department said.

“Congressional approval would be the culmination of an unprecedented three-year effort by the US and India, in a way that deepens our strategic partnership and strengthens global nonproliferation principals while providing trade and investment opportunities that will assist India to meet its energy requirements in an environmentally responsible way,” it said.

Calling the decision of the IAEA of August 1 and that of the NSG of September 6 as “historic events” the State Department has said that these events “have welcomed India into the nonproliferation regimes and formed a firm foundation for the US and India to strengthen our efforts in the future to prevent WMD proliferation and to combat terrorism”. — PTI



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