US Senate approves US-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Bill
Senate rejects killer amendments; passes nuclear deal with India.
BY OUR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
November 18, 2006
The nuclear chill has ended, finally. The United States Senate on Thursday voted by an overwhelming 85-12 margin its approval of the US-India nuclear deal.
While giving the historic nod, the Senate also rejected by big margins several killer amendments to the US-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Bill pressed for by non-proliferation hardliners. These amendments sought, among other constraints, to cap India's nuclear weapons and restrict its ties with Iran, neither of which was acceptable to New Delhi.
The debate over the deal ran through almost ten hours and the Senate okayed the legislation as written by Senators Richard Lugar and Joseph Biden. The Senate’s action has been hailed by President Bush who is currently on an Asia tour. Saying that the United States and India enjoy a strategic partnership based upon common values, he said the Senate has acted to further strengthen this relationship by passing the legislation that will deliver energy, nonproliferation, and trade benefits to the citizens of two great democracies.
The deal is expected to snip India's dependence on imported fossil fuels. By increasing India's demand for civil nuclear technology, fuel, and support services, this deal is expected to give shape to new business opportunities for American companies and enhance US-India trade ties.
United States officials after the passing of the bill said the agreement has in principle been maintained and voiced confidence that the administration will do its best to achieve further progress keeping in mind New Delhi's sensitivities.
Meanwhile, the development has been applauded by the Indian top brass. Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday welcomed the passage of the nuclear bill in the US Senate but said New Delhi will accept it only if it is in accordance with the spirit of the July 18 joint statement.
According to her, the position of the Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is that nothing will be acceptable which is outside the 18 July agreement between India and US..