Amid a new row about a Senate panel's remarks on the suspension of fuel supplies by NSG countries in the event of New Delhi testing a nuclear device, India on Wednesday asserted that it has "the right to test while others have the right to react."
"I am not going to comment on internal process in the US. We have the right to test and they have the right to react," Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters in New York.
He was reacting to a question on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's (SRFC) stipulation that the US will prevent transfer of nuclear technology and fuel by Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries in the case of India conducting a nuclear test.
The Senate panel on Tuesday endorsed the India deal 19-2, but at the same time introduced a new element impinging on India's right to uninterrupted fuel supplies guaranteed by the 123 India-US bilateral civil nuclear pact.
In the approval legislation sent to the full Senate, the Committee made it clear that "...it is the policy of the US to seek to prevent the transfer to India of nuclear equipment, materials, or technology from other participating governments in NSG or from any other source".
This contingency would arise in the event nuclear transfers to India are suspended or terminated in the event of a test in pursuance of provisions of the US enabling law, the Hyde Act, the Atomic Energy Act or any other US law, it says.
India has consistently maintained that it is only bound by the 123 pact and has objected to "extraneous provisions" in the Hyde Act, the domestic US legislation that provided the US administration an exemption from the Atomic Energy Act to carry out nuclear trade with India, a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Another provision in the SFRC's recommendation sets limits on the nuclear fuel provided to India as part of promised fuel reserve saying "any nuclear power reactor fuel reserve provided to the government of India in safeguarded civilian nuclear facilities should be commensurate with reasonable reactor operating requirements".
The Senate panel's controversial remarks come amid all-out efforts by the Bush administration to get the nuclear deal done with India done during Prime Minster Manmohan Singh's five-day visit to the US that ends Saturday.
The US administration is working overtime to ensure that the nuclear deal is approved by the US Congress and wrapped up by the time US President George Bush meets Manmohan Singh in the White House Thursday.