After several hiccups, the US Congress is finally getting its act together on the Indo-US nuclear deal. The House International Relations Committee has now fixed June 27 for mark-up of the enabling legislation, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee widely expected to hold its meeting a day later.
If the mark-up is completed before the Congress adjourns for a 10-day Independence Day recess this month-end, officials believe it will vastly improve the chances of passage of the measure by July-end. But it all depends on the text of the bill and amendments, if any, that emerges from the mark-up by the two panels.
Even as the dates were being firmed up on Tuesday, the non-proliferation hawks upped their ante yet again with a missive to all lawmakers. They sought to open a new front as it were, claiming that the pact violates US's international obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"India may not have to comply with the Treaty, but the US, as a signatory to it, has a solemn responsibility not only to discourage proliferation by others but to refrain from assisting other states' nuclear weapons programme in any way. The current proposal would breach this central provision of the treaty," said the letter, copies of which were distributed at a symposium hosted by the Arms Control Association.
The letter, signed by several leading lights of the NPT lobby, went on to say: "Since the proposed deal also accepts the legitimacy of India's nuclear weapons programme, it would effectively encourage India to continue in that direction."