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US lawmaker opposes NSG exemption for India
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | August 07, 2008 03:34 IST
Even before the India-United States civilian nuclear agreement gets a nod from the Nuclear Supplier's Group, a hint of the US Congressional opposition has surfaced, in the form of a salvo fired by Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In a missive to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images], Berman has stated that he is "a friend of India and a supporter of US-India nuclear cooperation.
But he added, "I find it incomprehensible that the administration apparently intends to seek or accept an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines for India with few or none of the conditions contained in the Henry J Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006."
Coverage: The Indo-US nuclear agreement
He warned Rice, "Such an exemption would be inconsistent with US law, and will place American firms at a severe competitive disadvantage, and undermine critical US nonproliferation objectives."
Berman pointed out in his letter that last year, he had introduced House Resolution 711, "a resolution that expresses the sense of the House that the President should withhold support from any proposed exemption for India in the NSG guidelines that is not fully consistent with the Hyde Act and that does not incorporate a number of key provisions, including:
The immediate termination of all nuclear commerce by NSG member states if India detonates a nuclear explosive device or if the IAEA determines that India has violated its safeguards commitments
A requirement that the safeguards agreement concluded between India and the IAEA provides for safeguards in perpetuity for all nuclear facilities, materials, equipment and technology designated as 'civil,' in accordance with IAEA standards, principles and practices
A prohibition on the transfer of enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production technology by any NSG member state to India
A stipulation that NSG supplier states may not grant India consent to reprocess nuclear fuel except in a facility that is under permanent and unconditional safeguards."
The lawmaker also reminded Rice that in her appearance "before the Foreign Affairs Committee on February 13 of this year, you assured me that any NSG decision will have to be completely consistent with the obligations of the Hyde Act."
"However, even if the members of the NSG were able to achieve consensus on the many complex issues related to the India exemption during those sessions, and the administration were able to submit the India agreement to Congress immediately after we convene on September 8, it is not likely that Congress will have sufficient time to fully consider all the issues and details surrounding the agreement, the associated safeguards agreement, and the NSG decision�and to ascertain their impact on US and global nonproliferation standards�prior to the target adjournment date of September 26."
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