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Home > News > Report

Senator Lugar hopeful of Congress approval for nuke deal

March 21, 2006 17:27 IST

Richard Lugar, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has expressed cautious optimism over the Indo-US nuclear deal getting the approval of the American Congress, stating that his "guess" is that a majority of members, some of whom are "very suspicious" now, will ultimately support it.

"My guess is that in due course, a majority of members of the Senate are probably going to come down on the side of legislation" that would ratify the July 18, 2005, deal under which India had agreed to place its civilian nuclear facilities under international safeguards in return for nuke fuel and technology, Senator Lugar said in an interview to The Indianapolis Star.

Asked how hard would it be to get the Congress to go along with the agreement,Lugar, who has introduced the legislation, said he did not know "at this point", but felt it was "an extremely complex issue in which some members may start with a bias with regard to India or with regard to international affairs altogether.

"I think we're in a period in which some members -- I wouldn't say have become isolationists/protectionists, but they, for the moment, are very suspicious of international agreements," he said.

Acknowledging that the US Chamber of Commerce had launched a campaign to mobilise support for the deal, he said the chamber believed that it was an "enormous source of jobs and new wealth" for the American industry.

The suppliers of both the technical as well as the hardware for all of this would come in large part from America "if we are competitive. It does open up the industry of the United States apparently for an extraordinary amount of new exports and new business," he said.

Rejecting the criticism that the agreement had created a double standard that would encourage rougue nations to continue to pursue nuclear weapons, he said when people talked about a double standard, it gave the impression that there were "lots of meritorious candidates out there and suddenly we have given the nod to one of them".


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