Friday, November 17, 2006


The US Senate has overwhelmingly voted to pass a controversial deal to share civilian nuclear technology with India.

The deal was proposed over a year ago as a way to boost ties with a strategic ally. In exchange, India must allow the US to inspect its civilian reactors.
Critics have argued the agreement will be detrimental to global anti-nuclear proliferation efforts.But President George W Bush hailed the move as bringing India into the "nuclear non-proliferation mainstream".

"As India's economy continues to grow, this partnership will help India meet its energy needs without increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

The legislation was adopted by 85 votes to 12 in the Senate after a series of proposed amendments - which India had opposed - were defeated.The Senate bill and a version passed by the House of Representatives, the lower house of the American parliament, must be reconciled and approved by Mr Bush before the legislation can take effect. Important fillip

The deal is a "lasting incentive" for India not to test nuclear weapons and "to co-operate closely with the United States in stopping proliferation", Senator Richard Lugar said as the upper house of the American parliament began debating the bill. Correspondents say that once the legislation is eventually approved, the initiative will overturn decades of US anti-proliferation policy.

They say that while success for the bill in the Senate hands President George W Bush an important fillip, several obstacles loom before the two countries can begin trade in civilian nuclear materials.

India would need to get approval for the deal from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an assembly of nations that export nuclear material.Delhi would also need to negotiate a safeguard agreement with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.There is also some concern about the transfer of missile technology to Iran by at least two Indian firms, recently black-listed by the US government.

Overwhelming majority

Once those hurdles have been overcome, technical negotiations would need to be completed between the two countries before Congress holds another vote on the overall deal.The BBC's Shahzeb Jillani in Washington says that the Bush administration sees the deal as one of its most important foreign policy initiatives.Overall, the agreement has enjoyed strong bipartisan support among US lawmakers.Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed its version of the bill with an overwhelming majority.

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, strongly defended the deal in the Indian parliament in August.

He said India would not accept any move by Washington that would impede its atomic weapons programme, nor would it allow any international scrutiny of its military facilities.

But Mr Singh also argued that the deal was in India's interests.
He said mass poverty could only be removed by a fast expanding economy, which in turn needed energy.
courtesy :- BBC NEWS


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