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India responsible with N-programme, says Burns

However, the US Under Secretary of State warned that it might take months for the Congress to approve the deal.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 12:48 IST

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns on Monday said that with the signing of a historic civil nuclear deal with the US, New Delhi was moving towards obligations with International Atomic Energy Agency.

The senior US official also dismissed any parallel between Indian and Iranian atomic programmes.

But during an address to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Burns, who played a key role in clinching the agreement signed during President George W Bush's India visit, also warned that it might take "several weeks or even months" before Congress approved it.

Rejecting some critics' argument as to what message the US was sending to Iran by signing a nuclear energy deal with India, Burns said: "We don't see the connection between what Iran is doing and what India seeks to do."

While Tehran is trying to extricate itself from the obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), India is moving towards it, he said, adding, "India is the responsible one, Iran is the irresponsible one."

He also rejected the argument that the deal somehow enhanced India's weapons programme. "India has a strategic programme" that existed even before this deal was worked out, he said adding the "future intentions are to build up the civilian sector for electricity".

Bush Administration's "selling" of the agreement on Capitol Hill is taking place this week, the first round with lawmakers scheduled for today, Burns said. The first phase was to "listen" to lawmakers on how they want to go about the whole thing.

Members of Congress want to see the details," he said adding the whole process may take several weeks or even months of discussions with lawmakers.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 03:00 IST