'Indo-US ties at stake over nuke bill'

However, India has not stated that it will treat US differently if Congress does not take action, state Dept said.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 19:25 IST

If the US Congress rejects an amendment to proliferation control laws to facilitate the civil nuclear deal with India, it would affect the entire range of bilateral ties, the State Department has said.

In a written response to a set of 82 questions raised by Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department said, "The initiative to reach civil nuclear cooperation with India recasts one of the most divisive issues in our relationship, and is viewed by many in India as a litmus test for our strategic partnership.

"If Congress does not approve provisions for India related to nuclear energy, it is likely that the nuclear issue will continue to constrain our diplomatic relationship, as well as our strategic, commercial, defence and scientific ties, thereby having a negative impact on many of the bilateral activities mentioned in the July 18 Joint Statement."

The answers to Lugar's questions were published on his website on Wednesday even as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified during a hearing by the committee under him.

Asked specifically if Indian officials had said they would treat the US different in the event of such a failure, the department said, "Indian officials have not stated that they will treat the US differently if Congress does not take action.

"They have, however, expressed concern about achieving extensive advances in the future of US-India relations if either side does not complete its Joint Statement commitments."

Rice on Wednesday urged Congress to expeditiously approve the draft legislation aimed at facilitating the civil nuclear deal with India, saying this would bring New Delhi into the non-proliferation regime.

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 11:03 IST