Ambassador Ronen Sen has dismissed a buzz apparently making the rounds in New Delhi that the Bush administration is on the verge of making an announcement that India will be provided with nulear fuel for its Tarapur reactor forthwith.
Sen told rediff.com that there is absolutely no credence to this rumor that such an announcement would be made in the next 36 hours, saying, "They can't do that. They have to go through the Congressional path."
The envoy, who was among the hierarchy at the Atomic Energy Commission at the time the Carter administration decided to cut off nuclear fuel supplies to Tarapur and is familiar with the negotiations that preceded this action by the US in the wake of India's peaceful nuclear explosion in 1974 that was viewed as a contravention of US nonproliferation law, said he believed the rumour was simply a case of "people reacting to events".
He was apparently referring to the rumour taking a life of its own following India's decision to vote with the US and the European Union on the resolution in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency deliberations calling for Iran to return to the negotiating table and to halt its enrichment of uranium if it were to avoid being referred to the United Nations Security Council.
Sen told rediff.com that despite India's vote that has been hailed by the Bush Administration and the US Congress, "I have no illusions. This (the implementation of the US-India nuclear agreement that among its provisions calls for the supply of nuclear fuel to Tarapur) is going to take some time. This is going to be very uphill. It is not going to be an easy task."
He questioned how the administration could be expected to make such an announcement when it has to be first sanctioned by the Congress and this requires a change of laws that President Bush has called for if the agreement he inked with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 18 following their summit in Washington at the White House is to be transformed into reality.
Bush said in the US-India Joint Statement, with regard to the transfer of high technology to India, that he would 'work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realises its goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security'.
He said he would 'also seek agreement from Congress to adjust US laws and policies, and the United States will work with friends and allies to adjust international regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India, but not limited to expeditious consideration of fuel supplies for safeguarded nuclear reactors at Tarapur'.
'In the meantime, the United States will encourage its partners to also consider this request expeditiously,' the Joint Statement had added.
Sen argued that in democracies, no administration could arbitrarily decide to go ahead with such transfers, as the rumor mill in New Delhi was said to be abuzz with, without the consent of the respective parliament. "Neither in our own country or here -- parliaments don't move in that manner."
"In our case or their case, till a law is changed it remains the law and as per the present (US) law, it can't be done," he explained, and reiterated, "It's going to be a long haul. It's going to be a difficult haul and I have no illusions about it."