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Markey urges conditions on nuke deal

This is to certify that New Delhi is fully cooperating with US efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

india Updated: Aug 05, 2006 10:49 IST

Rep Edward J Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, has urged the US Congress to enact a binding condition on any Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement requiring President Bush to certify that New Delhi is fully and actively cooperating with US efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the means to manufacture and deliver them.

In a statement in Washington on Friday, he said, this was imperative because as the world watches Hezbollah terrorists fire Iranian-supplied rockets into Israel.

"We need to take tougher action to halt the flow of sensitive technologies to Iran, and Indian companies have clearly been a major supplier of WMD-related materials and technologies to Tehran."

He said India could also not be trusted with safeguarding sensitive technology, as could be seen from the activities of the two Indian entities, which came under sanctions on July 28 and thus more stringent conditions would be in place if New Delhi wants access to American technology.

Markey, the Co-Chairman of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Non-proliferation, said the belated release of sanctions against Indian companies has only confirmed his belief that further conditions need to be attached to the civil nuclear deal that would allow India, which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to get sensitive nuclear technology and equipment from the United States after a thirty year ban.

Condemning the late disclosure of the State Department's imposition of sanctions against two Indian entities for the transfer of WMD equipment and technology to Iran, Markey said, "I am appalled that the Bush administration, which must have known for weeks if not months that it was going to sanction these two Indian companies, withheld this information from Congress until after the House voted to grant India a special exemption from US nuclear non-proliferation law on India's behalf. The plain fact of the matter is that the proliferant behaviour of these and other Indian companies indicates that India is not successfully guarding its most dangerous technologies."

"This continues the Bush administration's long practice of withholding vital information from Congress, information that could drastically affect Congress's views were it known," said Markey.

According to the Federal Register, Markey said, the sanctions determination was made on July 25, 2006, the day before a historic House vote, changing long-standing US non-proliferation laws to allow nuclear trade with India.

The sanctions report had been due to Congress long before the vote took place, but was not delivered until afterwards because he alleged that the Bush administration wanted to shield India before the vote in the House took place, he said.

Markey sent a letter on July 24 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, signed by Reps Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) calling for the release of the sanctions report before the House voted on President Bush's proposal for nuclear trade with India.

On July 26, 2006, Markey offered an amendment on the floor of the House which would have required the President to certify that India was fully cooperating with the US efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring WMD before nuclear trade could commence.

That amendment lost by a vote of 192-235, and the India nuclear deal legislation was then approved by a vote of 359-68.

He later claimed if the report had been disclosed in time, the House would not have voted against his amendment and would not have mustered such a strong showing of support for the civil nuclear deal with India.

On July 28 following press reports confirming that two Indian entities were to be sanctioned for providing WMD-related technologies to Iran, Markey joined Reps Ellen Tauscher and Barbara Lee in sending a letter to the State Department Inspector General.

He demanded an investigation into whether the State Department had knowingly withheld this vital sanctions package from Congress until after the India vote.