After clearing the first hurdle in the House International Committee, which passed it with an overwhelming majority, the bill seeking implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal on Thursday came up for consideration in a key Senate panel that may also put a stamp of approval on it.
The 18-member Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which took up for fine-tuning its own version of a bi-partisan bill on the deal, discussed whether to make exemptions in the 1954 Atomic Energy Act to enable the US to sell nuclear fuel and technology in return for non-proliferation and safeguard commitments from India. After considering the bill, the panel will vote on it.
Significantly, the draft of the bill, circulated hours before the Committee's meeting, didn't have a reference to Iran as was in the case of House Committee whose draft legislation, in the non-operative section, contained a provision seeking India's "full and active" participation in American efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The landmark deal was the "most important strategic initiative" undertaken by the Bush Administration which provides the country "new diplomatic options" to ensure global stability, said the Senate Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, who along with Ranking Member Joseph Biden introduced the bill in the panel.
On Tuesday, the 50-member House International Relations Committee approved by a vote of 37 to 5 the draft legislation on the civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement.