The US House of Representatives was preparing to vote on the final version of the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation bill on Wednesday night with the Senate expected to follow suit on Thursday.
However, negotiations on two of the amendments that India had asked either to be struck off or watered down continued almost to the last minute of the final bill being released.
The parts of the bill that New Delhi had objected to the most, including end-use monitoring by the US of Indian nuclear imports and an annual presidential verification, had been eviscerated, said congressional sources.
There continued to be final fine-tuning of Section 106 of the Senate’s version of the bill, which had an explicit ban on reprocessing, enrichment and heavy water technology being provided to India. Though this is standard US policy towards all countries, New Delhi has insisted the wording in the bill should not explicitly target India. Sources said wording that would allow India to access such technologies if, in the future, the US changed its policies had been more or less decided.
What was proving more difficult was the so-called Sherman amendment – largely because of the obstinacy of the congressman who had put it up – which calls for an end to cooperation if India violates global nuclear and missile anti-proliferation agreements. While this was not a major concern given India’s proliferation record, New Delhi felt it was unnecessary.