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'Iranian clause may hold in N-deal'

US Congress is likely to insist on India's cooperation to contain Iran's N-project, says a top Democrat.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2007 22:57 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A Democrat-controlled US Congress is likely to insist on India's cooperation with the US to contain the Iranian nuclear programme in a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact the two countries are negotiating, Bob Kerry, a leading Democrat and former governor of Nebraska, said in New Delhi on Saturday.

"That's going to hold with the Democrats' control of the US Congress. Looking at the American public opinion on the issue (Iranian nuclear programme), it's likely to hold," Kerry, who has served as US senator for 12 years, said in response to a question on the India-US civil nuclear cooperation legislation passed by the US Congress last month.

"It's a prediction that may or may not come true," Kerry, however, added in the same breath. Kerry, who is currently president of The New School University, New York, said this after delivering a lecture on 'India-US relations: A Congressional Perspective' at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. The lecture was organised by PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research) - a Mumbai-based NGO and The New School University, New York.

India has objected to certain "extraneous and prescriptive" clauses in the Henry J Hyde India-US Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act that was signed into law by US President George Bush last month.

The legislation, among other things, contains a "non-binding clause" that links civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US with New Delhi's support to Washington's efforts to contain the Iranian nuclear programme, suspected of developing nuclear weapons.

Kerry was, however, broadly supportive of the India-US civil nuclear legislation saying that a majority of Americans saw it as "an effort to help the world's largest democracy."

"We see a common bond. The Indian American community is rising in influence," Kerry, who was also a member of the 9/11 commission that went into the causes of terror attacks in New York and Washington over five years ago, stressed.

The Leftist allies of the ruling coalition in India have objected to the Iranian clause in the nuclear legislation that, they charge, compromises independence of the country's foreign policy. In his intervention in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also expressed concern over prescriptive clauses and expressed hope that these issues will be discussed when the two sides negotiate a bilateral 123 agreement - the sole legal document that will govern the terms of nuclear commerce between the two countries.

India and the US will launch the third round of negotiations on the bilateral 123 agreement later this month.

First Published: Jan 06, 2007 22:22 IST

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