Washington, Jul 10 (UNI) The Bush Administration reaffirmed its commitment to the US-India civil nuclear agreement, asserting that it is in touch with the Congress the approval of which is a prerequisite for the two-year-old landmark deal to take effect.
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack made this observation yesterday while commenting on a report in the Washington Post suggesting that the agreement may have cleared a key hurdle in New Delhi this week, but it appears unlikely to win final approval in the US Congress this year for want of time.
McCormack said '' We have been in close contact with the Congress and key members of Congress on this issue, really throughout this period, to keep them updated on it.'' He said, ''if the Indian Government completes a lot of the discussions it has been having about moving forward on a variety of different fronts regarding this deal, the United States Government is committed to doing whatever it can to fulfill its commitments here domestically.'' He said the Congress had an important role to play in it. ''But we have been in close contact with the Congress and key members of Congress on this issue, really throughout this period, to keep them updated on it,'' he added.
McCormack, however, said there were other aspects to the agreement that will require actions by others; for example, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
India has yet not secured the approval of the IAEA and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for Congress to consider the deal.
Congress will have less than 40 days session before it adjourns on September 26 and there is no indication that it will have lame-duck session to take up the issue.
When asked about the lame-duck session, McCormack said ''that is not under our control. That is certainly under the control of the leadership in Congress.'' The agreement allows India access to nuclear fuel and American nuclear technology in return for India accepting international inspection on some of its nuclear facilities.
UNI XC AK VP0740