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Home > News > Report

Conference committee finishes work on N-deal

Aziz Haniffa in Washington,DC | December 06, 2006 23:19 IST

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The House and Senate conferees have wrapped things up and completed their work on reaching a compromise enabling legislation to facilitate the US-India civilian nuclear agreement and both chambers are poised to vote on the bill sometime on Wednesday, Administration and Congressional sources have told
They acknowledged that in anticipation of a final vote in both the House and Senate was the reason Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns -- the chief US negotiator of the deal -- had scheduled a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

He will explain to the Indian public that this was as near perfect a bill that could have been achieved, taking into consideration all of India's concerns and adhering to the July 18 2005 and March 2, 2006 US-India Joint Statements.
The sources told that the White House is planning a signing ceremony of this final legislation on Monday, December 11, where President Bush would sign the bill into law in the presence of the key protagonists in both Houses who were the prime drivers of the enabling legislation and several Indian American community leaders and the representatives of the pro-India lobby -- including business and industry who were invaluable catalysts in the agreement's passage.
According to the sources although many of the amendments that India was concerned about and wanted eliminated saying it was a case of 'moving the goal-posts,' and not in keeping with the July 2005 and March 2006 negotiations, had been retained, but 'tweaked' to the extent that New Delhi's concerns may have been alleviated.
One source said, for example, with regard to the Harkin Amemdment on Iran, introduced by Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, that was adopted by the Senate last month, which called for the President that India is actively supporting US and international efforts to contain and if necessary sanction Iran's nuclear program in a manner consistent with UN Security Council resolutions, had 'been tweaked' to translate it into a reporting requirement and not a Presidential determination.
The sources said the same had been done with Sections 106 and 107 of the Senate bill that India had major problems with, by 'tweaking' them with a turn of phrase and language that removed the perception of a conditionality that India had to adhere to and instread required a presidential reporting requirement.
Section 106 prohibits the export of any equipment, materials or technology related to the enrichment of uranium, the processing of spent fuel, or the production of heavy water; ection 107 requires an end-use monitoring program to be carried out with respect to US exports and re-exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technology sold or leased to India.
Thus, another source said, "Broadly the conferees have taken into account and addressed the concerns expressed by Secretary of State (to the Congressional leadership and the conference committee captains, US Representatives Henry Hyde, Illinois Democrat and Tom Lantos, California Democrat and chair and ranking member of the House International Relations Committee and co-authors of the House bill and Senators Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican and Joe Biden,Delaware Democrat, chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and co-authors of the Senate bill) Rice in her letter, which, of course, were India's concerns."
The sources said the conference committee staffs had been working virtually non-stop and burning the midnight oil for the past few days 'and they have finished their work and are just cleaning up the text and the text of the conference bill should be available in the next couple of hours'.

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