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Home > News > PTI

India prepared for N-deal delay

November 08, 2006 18:36 IST

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Indo-US Nuclear Tango
Undaunted by results of the US polls, India remains hopeful that the civil nuclear deal will go through Congressional processes in November as it enjoys broad-based bipartisan support.

In the event of that not happening, New Delhi is prepared for some "delay" though it maintains that the longer it takes, the greater will be the uncertainty on the issue. In such an eventuality, the Bush administration will push for the legislation, which will pave the way for nuclear cooperation between the two countries, in the new Congress when it meets in January 2007.

Meanwhile, the governments of the two countries are holding informal discussions to ensure that there is no change in the contents of the legislation and that its language is in total conformity with the understanding of the July 18, 2005 joint statement and March 2, 2006 Separation Plan.

New Delhi is optimistic the Senate will take up the bill in the brief "lame duck" session, likely to take place on November 15-16, to enable the completion of the Congressional processes by the year-end.

The legislation on the deal is one of three initiatives of priority listed by the Senate to be taken up during the "lame duck" session. Basing its hope on the "broad-based bipartisan support" the deal enjoys, India sees a "very good chance" of the bill securing the Senate's approval.

On its part, New Delhi maintains that the parameters of the proposed law have been clearly outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament and that is "really the template."

India says the language of the proposed law as well as the "123" bilateral agreement should be "as close as possible" to the understanding reached by the two governments in July last year and March 2007.

New Delhi is not ready to accept any deviation from that understanding in the bill and the bilateral agreement. India wants the proposed legislation to be "forward looking" and the one seen as opening up prospects for civil nuclear cooperation.

The Indian government points out that the agreement with the US is for civil nuclear cooperation and that its strategic programme will remain out of its purview. The agreement is not aimed at capping India's strategic programme as is feared by some sections here.

Singh, in his statement in Parliament, made it clear that India will not accept any cap on its strategic programme. President George W Bush has assured India that the parameters laid down in the joint statement and Separation Plan are the "guiding factors" in giving final shape to the legislation that the US Congress will adopt.

The UPA government has rejected the BJP's claim that the US wants to limit India's fissile material production through the agreement, and pointed out that New Delhi has committed itself a long time ago to universal non-discriminatory fissile material control. India is not ready to accept any legal bindings on fissile control bilaterally as it has to maintain a minimum credible deterrent due to the security environment it is in.

New Delhi has, however, declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing on its own. India has also taken steps to assuage the world community's apprehensions that nuclear technology and fuel, received for its civilian programme, may be diverted to a third country.

The government has enacted laws like the one on Weapons of Mass Destruction in this regard.

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