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Amendment ensures nuclear deal will survive Manmohan government

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June 29, 2006 10:36 IST
While several deal-breaker amendments were shot down to facilitate the ratification of the India-United States civilian nuclear agreement by the House International Relations Committee on June 27, US Congressman Joe Crowley of New York has made sure that India's separation of its civilian and military nuclear facilities will survive the Manmohan Singh government.

Crowley, a former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, told Rediff India Abroad that this was the reason for introducing his amendment to the legislation in the House International Relations Committee. The amendment was unanimously adopted by the Committee by voice vote.

It requires an American President to provide the United States Congress with annual reports on the number of reactors in India which are designed for civilian and military use.

The Crowley amendment stated that 'not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, a report describing any new nuclear reactors or nuclear facilities that the Government of India has designated as civilian and placed under inspection or has designated as military.'

Crowley said while he is convinced of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's commitment to keep the US informed under the separation plan of any changes in India's civilian and military nuclear facilities, his amendment was to make sure that no future Indian government deviated from this path if they wished to continue receiving nuclear fuel and technology and nuclear reactors under the proposed agreement.

"It is important as we move forward," Crowley said, that "the United States and also the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) members have a clear picture as to what India is going to designate as civilian and what reactors will be used for military purposes."

Crowley said his amendment would make sure that the President is "kept up to speed, and Congress is kept up to speed as we move forward."

He acknowledged that the amendment would address concerns of many US Congressmen who voted for the agreement without introducing deal-breakers that would complicate the passage of the accord by the US Congress.

Crowley said it was also to send a message to New Delhi "that we are really hoping more than not, that this (agreement)is for civilian nuclear purposes and not for military purposes."

He felt his amendment clearly strengthened the legislation and brightened its chances of being adopted by both Houses of Congress.

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC