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Clearance of N-deal '3 hurdles' away

Permanent IAEA inspections, writing of rules in the NSG and curbs on testing under 123 agreement are the issues.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 12:50 IST

Permanent IAEA inspections, writing of rules in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and curbs on testing under the 123 agreement are the three issues that the US Congress should insist on before approving the legislation finalising the Indo-US nuclear deal, American experts have said.

In a report of the Council of Foreign Relations, Michael Levi and Charles Ferguson have suggested that that Congress should express its support for the civilian nuclear deal through Sense of Congress Resolutions.

However, instead of immediately approving the final legislation, it should issue a set of absolute requirements pertaining to the IAEA, the NSG and the bilateral agreement itself.

"Congress should enforce these requirements by refusing to pass legislations enabling nuclear cooperation until these agreements are satisfactorily in place," the CFR Report said.

What is 123?

The bilateral commitment to give up India's option to test a nuclear weapon in the future is on of the main features of the "123 agreement" between New Delhi and Washington.

The agreement is so called because section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954 establishes an agreement for cooperation as a prerequisite for nuclear deals between the US and any other nation.

Moratorium: The moot point

The two also told a select group of reporters that the US Congress does not have a direct role in any of the three stipulations, but it should have to wait before the other pieces are put in place.

The report also stressed the criticality of Indian moratorium on nuclear testing and tough export controls in place.

"Moratorium is more important than the size of the arsenal," Levi maintained, adding that export controls were "more important" than nuclear arsenals.

On the political implications of Congress blocking the deal, it was argued that this would "substantially damage" the bilateral relationship and reinforce the thinking in India that the United States was unreliable.

Levi also rejected the idea that the nuclear deal between India and the US was somehow an attempt on the part of the administration to prop up India against China.

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 11:12 IST