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Top lawmaker to push N-deal in US Congress

September 11, 2008 09:59 IST

Top United States Senate Democrat Harry Reid will try to push the India � US nuclear agreement in the Congress. The bill, which has already been approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, now needs ratification from the US Congress.

India gets NSG waiver by consensus

''Civil nuclear cooperation between the United States and India pursuant to the agreement will offer major strategic and economic benefits to both countries,'' US President George W Bush [Images], who submitted the deal to the Congress, said.

The nuclear deal has been severely criticised by non-proliferation groups, since India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Complete coverage: The Indo-US nuclear tango

Critics feel that such an agreement undermines the efforts towards disarmament and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. 

According to US law, the Congress has to consider the agreement for 30 days before a final vote can be taken. Supporters of the agreement are apprehensive about the limited time available to ratify the deal, as lawmakers will get engaged in preparations for the presidential election in November.

Embarrassing revelations on the Nuclear Deal

However, experts say that the 30-day regulation can be waived in special circumstances. The Congress can also convene for a 'lame- duck' session after the election.

Reid met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] on Wednesday to discuss the deal, and the two reportedly had a 'good meeting'.

Political implications of the NSG waiver

The Nevada Democrat will also meet lawmakers in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Republican leadership to work out the best strategy to ratify the deal.

Rice also met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday to win her approval for the deal, but the latter has still not made her stand clear.

I am reluctant to seek changes in N-deal: Obama

The California Democrat is planning to consult fellow lawmakers, including House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman, about the salient points in the agreement.

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