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India will not be in N-club: Rice

However, Bush Admn is hard at work to win legislative nod for nuke deal before Congress goes into summer recess.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2006 19:52 IST

The Bush administration is hard at work to win legislative approval for the Indo-US nuclear deal before the US Congress goes into summer recess on August 4.

However, Washington and its three major western allies are against India's entry into the nuclear club as a weapon state.

"Let me be clear: We do not support India joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a nuclear weapon state," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared at a joint power lunch hosted on Monday by two of the largest Indian American associations that have come together to lobby for the deal.

"Rather, the goal of our initiative is to include India, for the first time ever, in the global non-proliferation regime," she said in a bid to sell the deal to critics who suggest that it would enable New Delhi to rapidly expand its nuclear arsenal.

By requiring India to place two-thirds of its existing and planned civil nuclear reactors under the watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this initiative would be a net gain for the cause of non-proliferation worldwide.

This is not the position of the US government alone but also that of Britain, France and Russia besides IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the custodian of global non-proliferation, Rice declared.

Noting that the deal that has won overwhelming support from two key panels of the US Congress must now be voted by the full Senate and the House of Representatives to complete the approval process, she said, "So we are hard at work with both Houses of Congress, especially with the India caucuses".

"And we are encouraging both the Senate and House to vote on the civil nuclear initiative this month, before the summer recess," Rice told members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), representing over 50,000 physicians and hoteliers.

The US, she said, was mindful that the decision to enter into the civilian nuclear deal has also not been easy for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and for India as some in India perhaps want to keep America at arm's length.

The prime minister has had his own domestic fights against protectionism, but to his great credit he has won support for the civil nuclear initiative in India, she noted, and Washington now looked forward to India fulfilling its remaining commitments under their July 18, 2005, accord.

Describing the nuclear deal as a key to unlocking the full promise of a partnership between India and the United States -- a partnership that has the power to transform the world -- Rice listed five major benefits flowing from it.

First, by addressing India's unique situation -- a country with nuclear weapons that had never signed the NPT, yet had never proliferated its nuclear technology -- creatively and responsibly, the civil-nuclear initiative will elevate India-US partnership to a new strategic level.

Second, the initiative will enhance energy security. Diversifying India's energy sector will help it to meet the ever-increasing needs of its people, while easing its reliance on hydrocarbons from unstable sources like Iran. This is good for both India and the United States.

Third, it will benefit the environment. With India's carbon emissions growing rapidly as it works to meet its development needs, mostly through fossil fuels, the deal will help India develop clean, environmentally free nuclear energy.

Fourth, it will create opportunities for American jobs. Civil nuclear cooperation with India will open a new market for American entrepreneurs and workers, which would create thousands of new jobs, directly and indirectly, within the United States. By helping India's economy grow, the US would thus be helping its own.

Fifth, it will add to the stability and security of the world. Since the US desires to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, it believes that India's continued isolation from it is a wrong policy.

Rice said India and the United States can accomplish great things together in this new century. This new era could be defined not as "the American century", not as "the Indian century" but as freedom's century, she said painting it as the great outcome of their new partnership.

India will soon become the world's most populous nation, as well as one of the world's five largest economies.

And of course, as a rising global power, India can be a pillar of stability in a rapidly changing Asia and a strategic partner for the United States as it meets the challenges of the 21st century, she said.

House India caucus co-chair Gary Ackerman and India's Ambassador to US Ronen Sen also spoke on the occasion.

One of the leading forces in the hospitality industry, AAHOA members own more than 20,000 hotels and motels with over one million rooms and an estimated value of more than $40 billion.

AAPI with a membership of over 50,000 doctors and medical students is the largest ethnic medical and the largest Indian American professional association in the United States.