Nuke deal clearance this year uncertain

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Washington, Jul 11: The Bush administration has welcomed India's decision to move ahead on its civil nuclear agreement with the US but expressed its concern over Congressional approval this year.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday the administration was prepared to do all it could to achieve the approval. But, he also spoke of the time constraints. The Congress can move in only after the deal had the clearance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which regulates the nuclear trade. The Spokesman, however, said, ''India had made these decisions and we as a result are fully committed to doing everything that we can to fulfill our end of this agreement."

Mr McCormack described the new developments as a significant step forward for the US-India relationship, India's nuclear programme, and international non-proliferation regime.

He said, ''We look forward to discussing the issue at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting. And this is really a signal that India intends to move forward with this significant strategic step in terms of not only a different kind of relationship, but in a different kind of relationship with some of these international organisations that are involved in civilian nuclear power.'' ''We very much welcome India's step, look forward to talking about the issues not directly under our control, that is, what we're going to do with the Congress, but in the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as the IAEA,'' the spokesman said.

He said, ''The Indian people should know that our commitment to moving forward the agreement is a sign of the fact that this agreement is in our national interest. It also demonstrates the great respect we have for India, the Indian people, and the kind of relationship that we want to have with India in the future.'' Mr McCormack assured that the US was fully committed to doing everything it could do to move agreement forward to its completion.

''We, via our Ambassador and our Embassy in Delhi, have been following the issue quite closely. But the deliberations that were taking place were entirely within the Indian political system. And the decisions at which Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh arrived were fully, solely, the decisions of the Indian Government,'' he said.


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