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US Senate panel to hear N-deal today

The non-proliferation lobby in the US is making yet another attempt to block the India-US civil nuclear deal, reports V Krishna.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2008 01:41 IST
V Krishna

The non-proliferation lobby is making yet another attempt to block the India-US civil nuclear deal. It has written to all members of Congress urging them to address "the numerous flaws and ambiguities in this proposal" and "resist overtures to rush toward a vote."

<b1>The letter, signed by non-proliferation experts, former US diplomats, disarmament organisations and faith groups and organised by the Arms Control Association and the Campaign for Responsibility in Nuclear Trade, was released on Wednesday. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is to hold a hearing on the deal later on Thursday (early Friday Indian time).

The administration, which sent the deal and supporting documents to Congress on September 10, is lobbying members of both houses to ratify the deal this year. Rules require 30 days of consideration, but the current session is to end on September 26 and a lame-duck session after the elections is doubtful. PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington on September 25 at George Bush’s invitation has set off speculation that the US President is hoping for a vote by then.

"The energy, trade and non-proliferation advantages of the proposal are overstated by its proponents and the potential damage to the global non-proliferation system would be severe," the letter says. “Contrary to assertions by the administration, the proposal would not bring India sufficiently into conformance with non-proliferation behaviour expected of responsible nuclear-armed states.”

The letter complains that a waiver required from the Nuclear Suppliers Group was “jammed through” by the administration and “does not incorporate the same common-sense restrictions and conditions” that are mandated by US law.

Among those requirements, the letter says, is a ban on the transfer of enrichment or reprocessing technologies to Indian facilities unless the facilities are part of a safeguarded bilateral or multilateral research programme. Another requirement is a cut-off of nuclear trade if India resumes testing. The letter urges that “before Congress acts on the agreement, US and Indian officials must resolve their differences on key issues including safeguards.”