It is now or never for US-India civil nuclear pact: Mulford

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New Delhi, Feb.9 : U.S. Ambassador to India, David C. Mulford, has said that the civil nuclear agreement between the United States and India has almost reached the "now or never" stage, adding that further procrastination on New Delhi's part would allow non-proliferation groups to set down additional conditionalities in it.

Participating in the Devil's Advocate programme of the CNN-IBN television channel, Mulford told interviewer Karan Thapar on Friday night that the deal was good for India and would make the country the centre of a civil nuclear industry in the world.

"If this is not processed in the present Congress, it is unlikely that this deal will be offered again to India. It certainly would not be revived and offered by any administration, Democratic or Republican, before the year 2010, which is after the life of this administration," Mulford told Thapar.

He said that if the deal were to be revived, it would have to go through the (US Congress) Committee process "and I think the non-proliferation groups would insist on changes in many of the terms or additional conditions".

Asked if he was saying it is "now or may be never" for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Mulford said, "That's pretty close to it."

Noting that the 'atmosphere is changing', Mulford said, "I believe and I know both Republicans and Democrats believe in the United States this is the time to finish this deal."

He claimed that most Americans were by and large puzzled about India not embracing the agreement.

"I think there has to be some concern about elements of trust and discretion at the core of that (US-India) relationship," he said.

"The nuclear agreement is India's passport to the world," he said.

The American Ambassador also said that there was no agreement or undertaking that if the 123 Agreement goes through, India will make purchases or acquire technology from America:

When asked if India's refusal to go ahead with the deal would damage the wider Indo-US relationship, the Ambassador first said he didn't think so.

ANI

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