US lawmakers support N-deal

None | ByS Rajagopalan, Washington
May 27, 2006 09:59 AM IST

Dan Burton is now one of the most vociferous supporters of the Indo-US nuclear deal, writes S Rajagopalan.

Known as a compulsive India-baiter on Capitol Hill till not long ago, Dan Burton is now one of the most vociferous supporters of the Indo-US nuclear deal. On Thursday, the senior lawmaker teamed up with three prominent members of the India Caucus to write to all members of the House of Representatives, countering the distortions and erroneous assertions made by detractors of the pact. 

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"We firmly believe that the facts underlying the decision to enter into the agreement fully warrant the conclusion that its implementation is in the best interest of both the US and India," they said as they sought support for "this visionary agreement". Their missive was aimed as much at Washington's formidable non-proliferation lobby as the group of lawmakers, led by Democrat Ed Markey, who are continuing their efforts to thwart passage of the enabling legislation.

"For 30 years, India has protected its nuclear programmes. It has not engaged in or allowed proliferation of its nuclear technology. Simply put, India is treated uniquely because of its history of maintaining a successful nuclear non-proliferation regime," the four lawmakers noted. 

Apart from Burton, signatories to the letter include Gary Ackerman, co-chair of India Caucus, and former co-chairs Joe Wilson and Joe Crowley.

Challenging the assertion that the deal will weaken the non-proliferation regime, they commented, "On the contrary, the agreement greatly strengthens the international non-proliferation system."

They sought to highlight the fact that India, a country that has long been largely outside international non-proliferation regimes, will under this agreement place 14 of its 22 existing and planned nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. And once a reactor has been placed under safeguards, it will remain so permanently and without conditions.

They also detailed India's plans to negotiate and sign an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, harmonise its export control system and adhere to the Missile Technology Control Regime and Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines.

Alluding to India's unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and commitment to refrain from transferring enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them, the lawmakers said: "This last commitment is a continuation of India's excellent past record of controlling sensitive technologies."

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