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India, US begin talks on bilateral nuclear agreement
June 12, 2006 14:44 IST
Officials of India and the US met in New Delhi on Monday to formally launch negotiations on the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement.
At the three-day talks on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement or 123 Agreement, the Indian side is led by the Joint Secretary (America) in the External Affairs Ministry while the US delegation is headed by Richard Stratfor, Director of the Department of Energy.
The Indian delegation also comprises officials from Department of Atomic Energy while the US side includes representatives from the State Department and Bureau of Security and Non-proliferation.
The negotiations on the bilateral agreement are set to be as tough as those on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement considering that suggestions have been emerging from the US that India should be made to put a cap on future nuclear testing and that if it conducts a test, the cooperation with US would be nullified.
Pointing out that it has already declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, New Delhi has made it clear that it will not want to make it legal. An effort is being made to link the bilateral agreement with the civil nuclear deal currently being debated in the US Congress.
A move is underway to have votes on the Civil Nuclear Agreement and the bilateral agreement in the US Congress together. The two countries, in May, exchanged drafts of the agreement when Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran met US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns in London.