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Bush against nuke deal renegotiation

Bush admn has said it would never risk reassembling the 'complex' deal again.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 15:05 IST

The Bush administration has said while it was open to ideas from lawmakers on ways to strengthen the accord, it was against "renegotiating" the "complex" agreement as it would never riskreassembling it again.

Citing India's good track record on non-proliferation, the administration also sought to silence critics of the deal, saying the pact would not enhance New Delhi's nuclear weapons programme or lead to an arms race in the region.

Hours after the administration tabled a bill in the Congress seeking to amend the US Atomic Energy Act to facilitate the deal, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns noted that the agreement was a break from the "conventional wisdom of the past".

Members are looking for testimony that will lay out this plan in some detail and wanting to ask questions.

Burns said though Congress members are welcome to put forward their suggestions, the administration would not like to renegotiate the deal,

"This is a complex agreement. To reopen it, we're probably at risk of never being able to achieve it again and to reassemble it."

"There may be ideas that do not require renegotiation, that may help to reinforce or strengthen this agreement. We're open to all of them. But we wish not to renegotiate", he said.

Burns said, "we have told members... If you can get us ideas that do not require us to renegotiate the deal, but that might strengthen it by asking the United States or, for instance, to certify certain things that may happen in the future, that would be welcome. And we've already received such ideas".

The administration is keen on Congressional passage of the bill by April-end so that Washington could approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to change its policy on facilitating transfer of nuclear fuel to India, which has not signed the NPT.

The 45-nation body, which monitors nuclear transfers, is scheduled to meet in May.

Stressing that India is a trustworthy partner and has a good track record on non proliferation, he said, It's interesting that...A lot of countries around the world have a lot of experience with India in a nuclear realm.

And of course, a lot of countries have taken a close look at India's record on non-proliferation.

"And the consensus that I hear, talking to most of the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is that we all agree on one thing," he said.

The senior official said the administration fundamentally disagreed with the argument that the civilian nuclear deal enabled India to enhance its nuclear weapons programme.

"...All of us agree that India does have a good record in not proliferating its nuclear technology and nuclear materials. So people are free to make charges, whatever charges they want. That is the consensus opinion internationally," he said.

Burns said India has a track record of sticking to its commitments.

First Published: Mar 17, 2006 09:19 IST