In a new disclosure made public ahead of the NSG meeting in Vienna, a US Congressman has revealed that the Bush administration told the US Congress the US will not sell sensitive nuclear technologies to India and would terminate nuclear trade if New Delhi conducted a nuclear test, according to a report.
The Bush administration told this to the US Congress in correspondence that has remained secret for nine months, but which was made public only Tuesday by Representative Howard L Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, The Washington Post reported.
The disclosure seems to contradict the Bush administration's stated intention to push for a clean waiver in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) when it begins its two-day conclave in Vienna on Thursday to consider a revised draft to exempt India from the rules of global nuclear commerce.
The questions were submitted to the State Department by Berman's predecessor Tom Lantos way back in October 2007 and answers were sent Jan 16, 2008.
"The answers were considered so sensitive, particularly because the debate over the agreement in India could have toppled the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the State Department requested they remain secret even though they were not classified," according to the Washington Post which quoted a spokesman for Berman as saying he had made the answers public because the US Congress must have "relevant information".
The report is likely to embolden skeptics in the NSG to demand the inclusion of a reference to testing in the India-specific waiver.
New Delhi has made it clear that it will not accept a waiver from the NSG if it contained prescriptive provisions like testing or curbs on export of reprocessing and enrichment technologies.
Manmohan Singh has assured the Indian parliament many a time that India has not sacrificed its strategic deterrence and right to test a nuclear device in the 123 bilateral nuclear agreement it has signed with the US.