N-deal with India complies with US law: Burns
Posted online: Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 1032 hours IST
Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 1036 hours IST
Nicholas Burns Washington, July 26: Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Wednesday that a just-completed nuclear deal with India complies with US law, but some experts doubted that, and lawmakers said the agreement could face a rough road in the US Congress.
Congressional sources and other experts said the agreement reached last week appears to go a long way toward meeting the demands of India's nuclear establishment, giving New Delhi rights only accorded to key US allies Japan and the European Union."The administration is going to call this a success even though from policy and legal perspectives, there are major problems," said one congressional source,
who spoke anonymously because he learned details of the deal on a confidential basis.
The pact, approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, would allow India access to US nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time in 30 years, even though New Delhi refused to join non-proliferation pacts and tested nuclear weapons."We're very satisfied because we know the agreement is well within the bounds of the Hyde Act," said Burns
after testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Hyde Act, approved by Congress in December, created a unique exception to US export law to allow nuclear cooperation with India. The just-completed agreement, called a 123 agreement after a section of the US Atomic Energy Act, spells out technical details for that nuclear cooperation.Like the Hyde Act, the 123 agreement must be approved by Congress. But that cannot happen until India agrees on a program of inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group changes its rules."None of this will happen this year,"
the congressional source said.
Friday AnnouncementSpecifics of the pact will not be publicly disclosed until Friday, but administration officials have telephoned some lawmakers to discuss the deal; more briefings are due Thursday.
In a letter to President George W Bush, 22 congressmen, including some who had voted for the nuclear deal, said a 123 agreement that does not meet the Hyde Act's minimal conditions "places congressional approval deeply into doubt."
The conditions include no nuclear testing, permanent unconditional IAEA inspections of declared Indian nuclear materials and facilities, and an end to nuclear cooperation if the agreement is violated.
Others are a ban on transferring enrichment and reprocessing technology to India and a requirement that the Washington give prior approval on a case-by-case basis before India reprocesses US origin nuclear material, the letter noted.
Said Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who organized the letter: "These conditions and restrictions are not optional nor are they advisory. They were passed by the Congress and signed by the President."
"If the 123 agreement has been intentionally negotiated to side-step or bypass the law and the will of Congress, final approval for this deal will be jeopardized," Markey added.Experts and congressional sources said the United States agreed to give India advance, long-term permission to reprocess US origin nuclear material once New Delhi builds a new reprocessing facility that would only use such material.This is happening despite the fact that the Americans "do not give consent rights to reprocess except to our closest allies, Japan and Euratom,"
the European Atomic Energy Community, said Sharon Squassoni, a non-proliferation expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
She expressed concern that with such an arrangement "there will never be a way for us to prevent the transfer of (US) know-how and technology to India's weapons program
," as Washington promised in the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.The 123 agreement also says Washington has the right to have India return US-origin fuel and technology if New Delhi tests another nuclear device but stipulates "this will not undercut their fuel assurances,
" a congressional source said.
This apparently means that while the United States might cut off nuclear cooperation in the event of an Indian nuclear test, it will seek to ensure India continues receiving fuel from other sources, he and other experts said.
In New Delhi, an Indian official close to the negotiations said a complex process of consultations would be required before a US administration could penalize India by ending nuclear trade if it conducts another nuclear test.http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=90014