Time is short, and the US administration, business and Indian-American activists are all set to push Congress for approval of the civil nuclear deal with India.
<b1>With the Nuclear Suppliers Group giving its members a go-ahead for resumption of nuclear cooperation with India, the 123 agreement will now go to the US Congress, which reconvenes on Monday. The deal enjoys broad support, but there is a problem: the session ends on September 26, whereas rules require 30 days for consideration of the measure.
“We understand that the time is very short,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Algiers on Saturday. But “I have already talked before this NSG (meeting), several weeks before, to relevant committee chairs about trying to get it done, and I will have those conversations again, most likely on Monday or Tuesday.” President George W Bush sees the agreement as part of his legacy.
“We are ready,” said Swadesh Chatterjee, chairman of the US-India Friendship Council, formed to get the deal ratified. The group plans to meet a large number of Congressional leaders.
“We will ask for a waiver of the 30-day rule," Chatterjee told the Hindustan Times on Sunday. "Otherwise US companies will be handicapped. India can go ahead with deals with Russia and France.”
But Howard L Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The New York Times on Saturday that he would not consider any expedited timetable until the Bush administration provides him with more information about the negotiations in Vienna.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain, however, said on Saturday that Congressional leaders should act expeditiously to pass the agreement. Democratic nominee Barack Obama has also said he supports the agreement.