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Lantos nearly killed nuke deal bill with Iran rider

The senior US lawmaker and the bill's co-author backed its foremost critic, reports S Rajagopalan. Will it materialise?
None | By S Rajagopalan, Washington
UPDATED ON JUL 28, 2006 03:23 AM IST

Senior lawmaker Tom Lantos is as passionate in his support to India as in his antagonism for Iran. The two dispositions come into periodic conflict. It was the same on Wednesday when one saw the co-author of the nuclear deal legislation momentarily join the ranks of the bill’s foremost critic, Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey.

Indian supporters watching the proceedings of the House of Representatives held their breath as Lantos came out in support of Markey’s motion to add a new paragraph virtually making the deal conditional on India’s “full and active” participation in US efforts to dissuade, isolate and possibly sanction Iran for its nuclear push. 

As it turned out, the motion came fairly close to being carried, mustering 192 votes in favour and 235 against. If it had been carried, it could have been a deal-breaker, with India unlikely to countenance the attaching of such an extraneous condition. Lantos has upped the ante on Iran several times in the past. At the very first hearing of the House International Relations Committee last September, he virtually slapped a notice on India for not having decided to vote with the US to refer the Iran nuclear issue to the UN Security Council. Once India came round, Lantos became the most avid supporter of the deal.

But he raked up the Iran factor again a few months later, following a news report that a contingent of Iranian naval cadets was on a visit to India. It took repeated clarifications about the nature of the visit before Lantos changed his mind and reverted to his pro-deal stand.

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