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N-deal 'not easy sell' in Washington

"But we are very confident we have done the right thing here," Burns said.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 17:29 IST

It will not be easy convincing American lawmakers to approve a landmark nuclear deal with India, but the administration is convinced the pact would strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, a senior US official said.

"Sometimes bold ideas take a little while to be understood or to be accepted," US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns told a TV channel. "But we are very confident we have done the right thing here."

The comments came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was due to defend the civil nuclear cooperation deal before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House of Representatives International Relations Committee on Wednesday.

"They can't just be expected to sign off on something without having held hearings, which begin today, and without having been able to get the detailed answers from the American government which they are entitled to have," Burns said in an interview aired on Wednesday.

"There is no question that this is controversial." Under the India-US nuclear pact, agreed on President George W Bush's visit to India last month, India will receive American nuclear technology -- including reactors -- and in return separate its military and civil facilities and open up civil atomic plants to international inspections.

The United States has been pushing for closer energy and strategic ties with economically booming India but the White House has to win Congressional approval for the deal.

India has been barred from acquiring nuclear technology for three decades because it developed atomic weapons and refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The deal, if approved by US lawmakers, would help end India's nuclear isolation.
Burns said bringing India's civil nuclear industry under international inspections would strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, an argument that Rice would make strongly in her testimony on Wednesday.