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Indo-US N-deal in US interest: Post

September 12, 2008 19:45 IST

The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is in 'America's interest' and the failure of the Congress to ratify the landmark pact would make US nuclear suppliers the 'victims', a media report has said.

Maintaining that the historic agreement is now 'almost' a done deal, The Washington Post reminded US lawmakers that should they fail to get the legislation through by the adjournment date of September 26, it is the American business houses that stand to be short changed.

'The agreement has already been amply debated and discussed, and on balance, it is in America's interest,' The Post said in its lead editorial Yes for an Answer.

The US nuclear cooperation with India ceased after the latter's first nuclear test in 1974.

'But in today's changed global situation, the Bush administration has reasonably calculated that the benefits from a 'strategic partnership' with democratic, fast-growing India outweigh the risks of ending a punitive posture,' the influential newspaper said.

It cautioned that if the Congress 'backs out now', 'the only victims will be American nuclear suppliers, who would have to stand aside while French and Russian companies expand India's nuclear power system'.

The Washington-based daily underlined that the nuclear agreement enjoys the approval of the US executive branch, Indian government, the UN agency in charge of nuclear safeguards and a 45-nation international organization.

In the given circumstances, the report said, it would be 'strange indeed, if a Congress controlled by Democrats, who usually favour diplomacy and multilateralism, were to scuttle the deal now'.

However, The Post cautioned that 'unless Congress promptly passes a law permitting an expedited vote, the India deal could be put off until the next administration, and the next Congress, with all the uncertainty that entails'.

In regard to the role of the long-time sceptic, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman, it makes the makes the point that while he is right in insisting on a 'searching enquiry' the hope is that he will find a way before September 26.

On the issue of the kind of message this accord sends to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime, it makes a distinction between India and other states like North Korea, Iran or Pakistan.

'India, a democracy, is likely to behave more responsibly, as is demonstrated by the fact that its nuclear programme, unlike Pakistan's, has not been implicated in proliferation,' it said.

'And though the deal does not expressly require that the United States cut off nuclear cooperation if India tests another weapon, as the Hyde Act provides, it clearly permits the United States to do so, and India knows that this is not an idle threat,' The Post maintains.

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