US rules out changes, saying n-deal in India’s court

April 26th, 2008 - 12:40 pm ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 26 (IANS) The US has ruled out any changes in its civil nuclear deal with India to meet the objections of the Indian government’s Leftist supporters who have put the landmark accord in limbo. “This really is an issue that is in the Indian government’s court,” State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday when asked if the US was willing to make any changes in the deal as time was running out for its approval by the US Congress.

“If they are going to resolve their issues within their own political system, it’s going to be up to them to do so based on the agreement that’s on the table,” he said implicitly ruling out any changes in the enabling US law or the implementing 123 accord.

“Even though some things like the nuclear deal are slowed down as we await the outcome of the political process in India,” McCormack said “there’s a lot going on” in the their relationship in other areas.

“(In) India, there still is a strong sense of momentum in the relationship because there’s so many areas of cooperation, of business and science and academia and students and families.

“So I think we’re still working very hard on a lot of different aspects of this relationship and hope to be able to work hard on the Civil Nuclear Agreement when the Indians say the time has come to move forward again,” he said, putting the ball squarely in India’s court.

The spokesman’s comments were in line with those made by Richard Boucher, us assistant secretary of state for south and central Asia, earlier this week that while Washington was “still a bit worried about it all,” it was “fully supportive”.

“As the Indians - we respect the Indian democratic process, as they work through this,” Boucher. “They’ll be the ones to tell us when it’s time to go to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), when it’s time to go to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and when we can get it to our Congress.”

New Delhi has to complete the process of securing an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA and a nod from the NSG before the nuclear deal can be put before the US Congress for its final approval.

“But, as I said, every day that goes by makes it harder,” Boucher had said, citing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden’s statement in New Delhi that “unless we can get this deal up to the Congress in June so they can deal with it in July, it’s going to be really hard to get approval from the Congress.”

“Okay, that’s just a fact of life in the United States. That’s the congressional calendar, and we’ve got to get their approval to do this. So every day that goes by, makes it harder and harder and harder to get that done,” Boucher said.

To set at rest fears in India about certain prescriptive provisions in the US enabling law, the Hyde Act, Boucher had confirmed Indian government’s assertion that India and US were only bound by the bilateral 123 Agreement and not the Hyde Act.

Boucher did not “see any inconsistency between the Hyde Act and the 123 Agreement. The requirements of US law are requirements on us, for us to meet,” he said, noting: “The essential function of the Hyde Act was to allow this to happen, to empower us, to engender, to enable a nuclear deal with India.”

“That’s what the Hyde Act told us we could do and we’ve gone out and done that. We’ve done an agreement,” Boucher said. “The agreement binds the US and India, once it’s fully ratified and finished, but it’s essentially - that’s the deal between the US and India.”

“What we were allowed to do and required to do under the Hyde Act, was to negotiate our posture as negotiators was consistent with the Hyde Act and, therefore, we think that the deal that we negotiated is consistent with the Hyde Act.

“But what binds India and the United States together is the 123 Agreement, not the act,” Boucher said.

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