'If India conducts test, US will sure respond'

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New Delhi, Sep 19: Taking a strong stand on the nuclear testing, US said that it will have to respond if India ever tests in the future. "Just as how India had the sovereign right to test, the United States enjoyed the same right to respond", says a top Bush administration official to Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns assured the law makers that the 'strong package' sent to them based on Presidential determinations is consistent with the requirements of the Hyde Act. "We have been asked what would happen if India conducts a nuclear weapons test, and the short answer is that while India maintains a sovereign right to test, we most certainly maintain a sovereign right to respond," William Burns told law makers on the Senate Panel.

"We believe the Indian government intends to uphold the continuation of the test moratorium it committed to in 2005 and reiterated in its September 5 statement," he said.

"We also believe India will uphold its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. But Secretary Rice has noted clearly that we reserve the right to take appropriate action should India nonetheless resume nuclear testing and, as she told Congress in April 2006," the senior State Department official said.

"We've been very clear with the Indians, should India test, as it has agreed not to do, or should India in an way violate the IAEA safeguards agreements to which it would be adhering, the deal, from our point of view, would, at that point, be off," Burns pointed out.

The Bush administration official said that the US had sought a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) exception for India, consistent with the Hyde Act, and, at the same time, capable of commanding a consensus within the group.

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