The India-US nuclear deal, which offers US nuclear technology to energy-hungry India in exchange for placing Indian civilian reactors under safeguards, was passed by the House of Representatives by 369-68 and by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 16-2 vote. But the 100-member Senate is yet to vote on the deal. This would be a great opportunity to reestablish some bipartisan agreement on US foreign policy. By the way, the Chinese are looking to see what they can do in Pakistan. I guess they are card counters.
‘The best day ever in Indo-US ties’
Friday, November 17, 2006 23:50 DAILY NEWS & ANALYSIS
NEW DELHI: India has greeted the passage of the nuclear pact in the US Senate with cautious optimism. Foreign minister Pranab Mulherjee thanked President George Bush and Secretary Condoleezza Rice for their tireless efforts to get the bill through, but realising that there was still some way to go, he said: “We must await the final version before drawing any conclusions on the legislation.”
US ambassador David Mulford was more effusive, saying “This is perhaps the best day ever” in India-US ties.
“It is a historic day in the long relations between India and the US… perhaps the best day ever, with the Senate voting overwhelmingly for the bill,’’ ambassador Mulford told reporters at a news conference at Roosevelt House Friday afternoon.
“It represents the realisation of President Bush’s vision of India’s emergence as a major world power and marks the end of decades of nuclear isolation of India.” He repeatedly emphasised that the effect of the agreement , which would finally allow nuclear trade with India, would bring New Delhi to the “international mainstream.”
In effect, India will be the only country, besides the US, Russia, UK, France and China to be given this privilege. Asked whether this would mean that the world has tacitly recognised India as the sixth nuclear state, Mulford was quick to point out : “The agreement is on civilian nuclear energy.” He went on to say that once the agreement was through it would help in generating much needed power to keep pace with India’s growing energy requirements. At the moment the just two and a half per cent of nuclear power is generated in India.
“It is one big step forward, but there is yet some way to go yet,” said a senior official involved in the negotiations, who did not wish to be identified. There are, however, some serious problems. Much of this has to do with some of the formulation in the bill and some of the provisions which are India specific. One is the issue of recycling of spent fuel.
The US does not transfer this technology to any country, but the move to put this formally as a clause in the bill is not acceptable to India. “If you want to take the relations to a higher plane it is essential that you trust us,’’ said an Indian official.