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Home > News > PTI

Bush under attack for statement after signing nuke deal

December 21, 2006 23:04 IST

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Senior Democrat lawmakers have described as outrageous and shameless United States President George W Bush's statement that he considered certain provisions in the new law Indo-US civil nuclear deal as mere advisory.

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, who was the author of the Harkin Amendment which said it shall be the policy of the US to secure India's full and active participation in efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, sharply criticised the president for his clarification, seen in many quarters as an attempt by the White House to allay concerns and apprehensions of India.

"I find it outrageous that the president has repeatedly stated the greatest threat to US national security is a nuclear Iran, yet explicitly rejects the Congress' declaration that it shall be the official policy of the US that India will not use its nuclear technology to help develop Iran's nuclear weapons arsenal," he said.

Harkin maintained that with his recent statement, issued after signing the deal, once again Bush has shown that he views Congress as a nuisance rather than an equal branch of government under the Constitution.

"India has a proven robust relationship with Iran and as the international community moves forward to deal with, contain -- and if necessary -- sanction Iran for the continuation of its nuclear activities, we will need greater support from a regional partner like India," he added.

"Congress and the administration agree it is imperative to our national security that we prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet the president shamelessly brushed aside concrete steps Congress approved to avert that exact scenario," he said.

Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is not only one of the gravest dangers that the US faces but also has the potential to throw the Middle East into a dangerous nuclear arms race, only adding to regional and global instability, Harkin said.

The Iowa Democrat claimed that Bush signing statement was yet another example of the Administration's rhetoric "saying one thing and its actions doing another".

Yet another Congressional Democrat Ed Markey, the co-chair of the House Bipartisan Taskforce on Non-proliferation and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, also sharply attacked the president for his signing statement.

"With yet another infamous signing statement, President Bush is declaring that he can ignore the will of Congress when it comes to ensuring India doesn't aid Iran's fledgling nuclear programme.

"These statements are an egregious abuse of the separation of powers, in which the Executive declares itself above and beyond any limitations or policies enacted by the Congress, even as he signs them into law," Markey said.

"Does the president mean that it could impair our foreign relations with India if Congress found out that India broke their agreement with us? Of course it's true that if India insists on defending Iran's nuclear programme, for example, reporting this publicly could impair the relations of our two nations," he said.

"But the president doesn't get to choose what the administration tells the Congress because he's bound by the statute he just signed into law," the Massachussetts Democrat maintained.

Markey also claimed that Bush wants to reserve the right to ignore is a requirement that the United States follow the expert guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group when transferring nuclear technologies and materials to India.

This requirement is contained in section 104(d)(2) of the new law. "The United States created the Nuclear Suppliers Group in order to develop a system that could control nuclear transfers around the world and hopefully prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

"The Congress recognised the fundamental importance of the NSG to international nonproliferation efforts, and required that the United States abide by its guidelines with our transfers to India.

"That's not a difficult requirement, because it is already US policy to follow NSG guidelines, and our government has strenuously objected to Russian attempts to bypass these international guidelines," Markey said.

"The president indicates in this signing statement that he reserves the right to ignore the Nuclear Suppliers Group. He is turning decades of US international policy on its head and thumbing his nose at Congress at the same time. Soon after signing the Henry J Hyde United States India Peaceful Atomic Energy Co-operation Act of 2006 Bush issued a statement pointing out that Section 103 of the Act purports to establish US policy with respect to various international affairs matters."

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