Home>News Center>World

US upbeat on nuclear deal with India
Updated: 2005-10-19 08:44

The Bush administration is confident Congress will approve a sweeping new U.S. nuclear deal with India before a summit in early 2006, Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said on Tuesday.

Burns, speaking shortly before leaving on a visit to New Delhi, said the chances had been improved by India's recent vote in support of a U.S.-European resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency faulting Iran's nuclear activities.

His optimism was not shared by some Republican sources, who believed many in President George W. Bush's own party believed the deal gave India, a nuclear power but not a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, too much latitude.

For nearly 30 years the United States led the global fight to deny India access to nuclear technology because it developed nuclear weapons and tested them.

But Bush jettisoned this approach with an agreement with India in July to allow U.S. nuclear cooperation. He is seeking changes in U.S. law and international regulations to allow India to get restricted items, including nuclear fuel.

As Burns noted, the administration considers India a democratic ally and "rising global power" whose economic and political clout will be central to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the decades ahead.

Many experts fear this will undermine global efforts to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.

"Since the Indian government's very decisive and clear vote in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that issue (Iran) has disappeared in the U.S. Congress and we now find substantial support in the U.S. Congress for the agreement reached on July 18" between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Burns told the Asia Society in New York.

He said his New Delhi trip aimed to produce a concrete plan for India to separate its military and civilian nuclear facilities so U.S. cooperation would benefit only the civilian nuclear energy program, not weapons development.

"I think by the time President Bush visits Delhi in early 2006, you will see that both of our countries will have met our commitments in this landmark agreement and we will see it come to fruition," he added.

U.S. Congressional sources and experts agreed India improved its chances of having new rules approved when it voted with the United States and key European states last month to threaten Iran with referral to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities.

But many lawmakers remain concerned that the U.S.-India nuclear deal is too permissive, said Republicans, who predicted it would have to be modified or could even fail.

"Congress is in no mood to go this route ... I think a combination of Democrats and Republicans will look at the policy issue substantively rather than in a partisan way and they will block the president's efforts," one Republican insider told Reuters.

Another Republican, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (news, bio, voting record), a key member of the House International relations Committee, said the deal had "long-term implications for U.S. non-proliferation efforts" and Congress needed to spend more time studying both the potential benefits and negative consequences.

The administration on Tuesday put an India-related proposal before a meeting in Vienna of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which seeks to control nuclear exports, but so far has not told Congress how it wants to approach changes in U.S. law.

Burns' speech -- on the "nascent strategic partnership" with India, and a subsequent question and answer session -- was seen on an interactive video-conference with Washington.

He called India a "rising global power" and said the United States was confident that 50 years from now India would still be a stable multi-ethnic democracy.

Saddam on trial Wednesday
Rumsfeld in town to discuss military exchanges
Franz Muentefering to be German vice chancellor
  Today's Top News     Top World News

China postpones Japanese foreign minister's trip



Guardian admits Taishi reporting false



Rumsfeld visit to pave way for summit meet



Saddam lawyer to seek 3-month adjournment



Snow urges faster China reform



Joint action helps bust cross border drug ring


  Saddam lawyer to seek 3-month adjournment
  Iran's hardline press calls for cutting UK ties
  Inflation along Gulf Coast soars highest in 15 years
  Minister in quake-hit Indian Kashmir murdered
  Google offers glimpse at data collection
  Greeks find no new bird flu cases
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
US, India sign science, technology pact
Ethnic violence kills 37 people in India
Indian FM holds talks with Iranian ambassador
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?