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Rice to testify on India-US nuke deal

Written by: Staff
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Washington, Apr 5: Facing intense pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, some of whom want changes to the India-US civilian nuclear deal, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is likely to announce a new push for an international treaty to end production of all fissile material.

Negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) have been at a standstill since the administration announced two years ago that it could not support the accord in its present form and wanted a ''verifiable'' one instead.

This announcement could come when Ms Rice addresses some lawmakers concerns in her testimony today before the House and Senate foreign relations panels, according to the Washington Post.

Yesterday a bipartisan group of nonproliferation experts had sent a letter to the lawmakers urging them not to authorize technology transfers until India stops producing nuclear weapons material, as the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China are believed to have done.

The Post quoting some unnamed administration officials says Ms Rice will also answer questions on the unfinished agreement, in which the United States would provide India with civilian nuclear technology and also about India-Iran relations, which has become an irritant in the Insia-US relations in the view of some Congressmen.

Quoting some unnamed administration officials, the Washington Post says Ms Rice will also be questioned on the visit of two Iranian naval ships, ''carrying several hundred sailors, docked at the Indian port of Kochi to begin five days of joint exercises, part of an extensive agreement Tehran and New Delhi signed in 2003''.

The port call -- and the broader issue of India's military, scientific and economic ties with Iran -- have raised apprehension on Capitol Hill, where members are weighing an effort by the US administration to form its own strategic partnership with New Delhi, the Post report says.

UNI

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