US - India nuclear deal sent for US Congress ratification

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which gained waiver from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna on September 6, 2008, will be ratified by the US Congress to remove 34 years of sanctions against India, following a nuclear device testing in 1974.

US President George W. Bush and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exchange handshakes in New Delhi on March 2, 2006.

NSG's India specific waiver allows India to join a select club of nations free to have nuclear weapons, without the international watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) breathing down its neck. The waiver comes after strong opposition from China, New Zealand and Austria amongst a few others. However consensus for the waiver prevailed after India reiterated its commitment to non-proliferation and voluntary unilateral moratorium on further nuclear tests.

With a USD 100 billion nuclear trade possible over the next 10 years, a number of countries including France, Russia and Canada are all vying for a piece of action. Meanwhile India has agreed to the US request to hold back discussions with others till US Congressional ratification so as not to prejudice the US firms.

Latest reports indicate that US administration is working overtime to ensure a smooth passage for the deal in Congress session that began on Monday and trying to persuade the lawmakers not to insist on the mandatory 30 day rest period required to present the agreement for approval. It is also confirmed that U.S. President George W. Bush will welcome Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 25, 2008 for joint signing of the agreement.