In a bid to address India's concerns, the Bush Administration has told a key Congressional panel that it would have preferred to keep a ban on export of uranium enrichment or reprocessing technologies as a policy option and not put into law in the India-US nuclear deal.
While India fully understands it would not get such technologies under the India-US nuclear deal, it was concerned over this being written into law as a new condition, a senior official told the Senate foreign relations committee on Wednesday.
India thus looked at such a legal ban in the draft Senate bill as moving the goal posts set by their July 18, 2005 agreement as such a statutory prohibition - 'a flat ban' - singles out sales to India in the absence of similar bans for other nations, said John Rood, selected to head the State Department's non-proliferation bureau.
India also had a major problem with Section 107 requiring US to establish an end-use monitoring system going beyond the IAEA safeguards system to make sure US exports are not diverted to India's weapons programme, he said at his nomination hearing.
New Delhi sees this as implying a lack of trust in them. And so naturally, they have some concerns about that, Rood said reiterating the administration's preference for relying on existing mechanisms instead of creating one for India specifically.
India looked at this provision too as yet another case of moving the goal posts since the creation of such a framework was not discussed in the run up to the July 2005 agreement, he said.
Rood gave this explanation on being asked by the Senate panel's Republican Chairman Richard Lugar why New Delhi was opposed to placing the prohibition into law when it can accept the existence of such a policy.
The Bush Administration has been clear throughout its dealings with the Indians about its policy on enrichment and reprocessing technologies, he said. In fact, it was an important feature of discussions with the Indians and included language under which the Indian government agreed with US to limit the spread of enrichment reprocessing technologies internationally, he said.
The administration appreciated the waiver authority given under the Senate draft bill to export proliferation-resistance technologies to India, but it would have preferred to keep it as a policy option, Rood said.
In his prepared statement to the Committee, Rood urged Congress to complete action on the enabling legislation to take forward the administration's initiative to build a new strategic partnership with the world's largest democracy.
The civil nuclear cooperation initiative is an important means of building this strategic partnership, and also serves America's non-proliferation goals by bringing India into the international non-proliferation mainstream, he said.
Rood currently serves as a special assistant to the president and senior director for counter-proliferation strategy at the National Security Council, where he brings together representatives from US government agencies responsible for formulating and coordinating non-proliferation policies.
A former CIA analyst, Rood spent several years following the missile programmes of countries such as India, North Korea and Pakistan. If confirmed, he told the Senate Committee, he expected to lead the State Department bureau through "what promises to be challenging years."