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US Chamber of Commerce urges Senators to support N-deal

September 20, 2006 01:26 IST

The US Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation that represents more than three million businesses and organisations of every size, sector and region, has fired off a letter to each and every US Senator urging them to support the US-India civilian nuclear deal arguing that it would cement a long-term strategic partnership between the two countries. 

In his missive to the lawmakers, Bruce Josten, the chamber's executive vice president for government affairs, wrote, "The US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act" -- S. 3709 -- would promote "US non-proliferation objectives while cementing a long-term strategic partnership between the US and one of the world's most important emerging powers." 

"By ending India's isolation in civilian nuclear power, S. 3709 will lay the foundation for major trade and investment opportunities for US companies," Josten argued and noted that India's energy requirements through 2012 would "involve investments of more than $170 billion". 

He said that in this regard, US firms, needless to say "look forward to providing the equipment, services, and technology to assist India in meeting its energy security needs." 

"India's nuclear power requirements are projected to generate as many as 27,000 high quality jobs each year for the next 10 years in the US nuclear industry alone," Josten added and warned, "if the US forgoes this opportunity, these benefits will go to the competition." 

He informed the lawmakers that "other important benefits will accrue to the United States by initiating civilian nuclear cooperation with India,"and said the legislation would "put in place the necessary framework to finally bring India's civilian nuclear program under international safeguards." 

"Under the agreement, which will be submitted for final Congressional review at a later date, India will implement permanent IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards for two-thirds of its present nuclear facilities and all future civilian nuclear facilities. Sharing civilian nuclear technology will also provide India's fast-growing economy with an environmentally sound energy resource to continue lifting millions of Indians out of poverty," Josten said. 

While acknowledging that S. 3709 "contains provisions of concern," Josten wrote, "Our hope is that differences between the House and Senate bills will be resolved in a way that will promote US nonproliferation objectives while reinforcing the US-India strategic partnership." 

"We cannot move forward to achieve these objectives in conference without a Senate vote," he said. 

"Congress has a historic opportunity to strengthen the growing partnership between the world's oldest and the world's largest democracies," Josten reiterated in his letter, and in a veiled message with the implication that contributions to legislators' campaign coffers could be either generously or adversely impacted on how they vote on the nuclear deal, said, "Therefore, the US Chamber of Commerce strongly encourages your support for passage of S. 3709 and will consider using votes on, or in relation to, this issue in our annual How They Voted scorecard."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC