Bush walks the N-talk, takes deal to people | india | Hindustan Times
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Bush walks the N-talk, takes deal to people

THE KEY legislation, which will clear the way for implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, is finally before the US Congress. The bill was introduced in both Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday ? a day before Congress goes into a 10-day recess.

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 13:01 IST

THE KEY legislation, which will clear the way for implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, is finally before the US Congress. The bill was introduced in both Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday — a day before Congress goes into a 10-day recess.

The bill seeks to amend the US Atomic Energy Act, 1954, to grant India a special waiver. The Act bars nuclear technology trade with countries that do not accept full-scope safeguards on their nuclear facilities.

The bill was introduced by senior lawmakers Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos in the House and by Richard Lugar in the Senate. Deliberations on the legislation, introduced at the request of US President George W. Bush, will begin by month-end when Congress reassembles after the recess.

Special hearings are to be held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committee to go into the nitty-gritty before the bills are sent to the floor of the two chambers for wider debate and vote.

The administration, keen on a speedy follow-through on the deal ever since Bush's return from his South Asia visit on March 5, prevailed upon the Congressional leadership for an early introduction of the measure. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held discussions with top lawmakers of both chambers.

The administration is keen on Congressional passage of the bill by the end of April so that the US could approach the Nuclear Suppliers Group for granting India similar exemption when the 45-nation body holds its meeting in May.

It is, however, unclear as of now how soon — and in what form — the Congress will dispose of the bill. Congressional sources have indicated the possibility of modifications to the bill as the Senate and House panels deliberate on it in the coming weeks.

Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, has gone on record saying that Congress "may seek conditions" for approving the pact. He, however, did not elaborate.

Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also commented in an interview two days ago: “Some of my colleagues may have amendments. They may have other suggestions.”

A resolution against the deal has already been moved by a small group of lawmakers led by Ed Markey, senior Democrat from Massachusetts and co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Non-Proliferation, who has vowed to work for scuttling the deal.