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N-bill: 'Iran reference not a rider'
June 30, 2006 18:37 IST
With the Left parties objecting to the mention of Iran in the draft bill passed by a Congressional panel, the US on Friday said this was "not a rider" to the civil nuclear deal and expressed confidence that the law allowing trade in the atomic field with New Delhi will be in place by the end of July.
Washington, however, reiterated that the provisions of the July 18, 2005, joint statement will not be implemented if New Delhi breaches its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.
Sounding upbeat about the passage of the bill in the Congress after two key committees of the Congress approved draft bills with a thumping bipartisan majority, US Ambassador David C Mulford said this development has lent momentum to enactment of a law to allow nuclear trade with India and this is expected to be in place by the end of July.
The entire process, which also involves conclusion of a bilateral 123 Agreement, is expected to be in place by the end of 2006, he told reporters in New Delhi.
The reference to Iran in the draft bill of the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives, he said, is "not a rider" as it is not legally binding.
Mulford's response came when his attention was drawn to a clause that calls for securing India's "full and active participation in US efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons capability (including the capability to enrich or process nuclear materials), and the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction".
The Left parties have objected to the mention of Iran in the bill, saying, "This clearly substantiates" the apprehensions that "through the nuclear deal, the US will armtwist India to change its foreign policy to kow-tow to US strategic global designs".
Mulford explained that in such bills, there are legislative provisions as well as "declaratory statements which sometimes specify or remind people what the US policy is" vis-a-vis an issue.
"It is indicating a sense of the Congress, in a way that is not legal or binding," Mulford said adding, references to Iran in the draft bill are in "that category".
The US envoy said such "pronouncements are not part of the bill or section of the bill, which is change in law... it is a sort of statement of policy and opinion by members of the Congress."
Describing the deal as "unique" and "historic", he said a vote on the floors of the House of Representatives and Senate is expected after a recess between July 10 and August 1, and there was a high probability of the passage of the law in view of the strong bipartisan support indicated during voting in the two committees.
Mulford said the draft bills of the House and Senate were mostly similar and members of the Congress will now concentrate their efforts to eliminate whatever differences there are between the two and prepare a single bill.
On the bilateral 123 Agreement, he said negotiations on it were 60 per cent complete and parleys will soon be held to conclude it as soon as possible.