'US to pass N-law before IAEA deal'
India is likely to put across that it expects the US Congress to clear the N-deal before it finalises safeguards.india Updated: May 23, 2006 21:43 IST
When Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran meets US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns on Wednesday in London, India is likely to put across that it expects the US Congress to clear the civilian nuclear deal before it finalises a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"Unless there is a change in legislation and a change in the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an agreement on India-specific safeguards with the IAEA doesn't make sense," sources said.
"Passing of the legislation will be the first order of business," they clarified.
However, New Delhi will stay engaged with the IAEA and NSG to work out safeguards agreement.
Ahead of the meeting between Saran and Burns, India is optimistic that the US Congress will vote on the legislation "sooner rather than later", the sources added.
Besides the sequencing of implementing the deal, the two officials will discuss its various facets, as also bilateral relations spanning diverse fields like trade and technology.
Burns is likely to brief Saran on the efforts made by the US administration in selling the deal on Capitol Hill and to non-proliferation hawks who are trying to impose new conditions for implementing the deal, diplomatic sources informed.
Saran will update Burns on India's progress in negotiating the safeguards agreement with the IAEA and its concerns about assured fuel supply for safeguarded reactors, the sources said.
The meeting between the two top interlocutors on the nuclear deal takes place after a fresh assertion by Burns that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given a commitment on a moratorium on nuclear testing during his visit to Washington last year that led to the landmark joint statement listing out reciprocal obligations of both countries for implementing the deal.
Washington's insistence on a permanent moratorium on nuclear testing is likely to be a sticky point as New Delhi has already rejected the clause asking for a permanent ban on testing in a draft of the proposed legislation last month.
India had objected to the clause stating that Washington will terminate all nuclear cooperation if New Delhi were to explode a nuclear device.
New Delhi has clarified time and again that it will only agree to a unilateral voluntary ban, which was its position when the two countries agreed on the separation plan unveiled by India March 2.