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Weapon test won't end fuel supplies: US

US envoy Mulford says fuel from other countries will remain available, reports Madhur Singh. Read on...
Hindustan Times | By Madhur Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 31, 2007 01:35 AM IST

Testing of a nuclear weapon by India will not mean complete cessation of fuel supplies as fuel from other countries would remain available, US Ambassador to India David C Mulford said on Monday.

In a telephonic press conference from the US, Mulford said, "The US has indicated its willingness to help India create a strategic fuel reserve, and in that reserve US fuel might conceivably be recallable and fuel from other sources would not be."

In response to repeated queries regarding the potential fallout of a nuclear weapon test by India, Mulford said, "We are assuming and operating on the basis that that situation will not occur and India’s commitment to its unilaterally declared moratorium on testing will hold up."

However, he said, in case India did test, the Hyde Act that provides for the right of return would apply. Nevertheless, he said, "We also pledge to engage other countries in the supply business under certain circumstances to assist in the continuation of supply."

Mulford has been part of the negotiations since the very beginning, and the press conference was organised to clarify issues regarding the 123 Agreement over which much speculation has been on in India. He said the text of the deal would be made public “in a few days” at a time mutually agreed between the two countries.

India needs to reach a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as get a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group before the deal reaches the US Congress for an “up or down” vote. This means that Congress will have to give it a “yes” or “no” vote without making any changes to the text of the deal.

In answer to a question, Mulford said India’s relations with Iran would be “reviewed and scrutinised” by Congress. He added that negotiations with the IAEA and the NSG should be wrapped up expeditiously so as not to get the deal into Congress at a time when the US is busy with the 2008 Presidential elections.

Mulford, however, added he was confident that the 123 Agreement would get strong bipartisan support in Congress, like the Hyde Act before it.

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