The United States has said the civil nuclear deal with India will be 'consistent' with America's domestic law and the country is keen on getting the initiative through by the end of this year.
Responding to a powerful Democrat lawmaker's contention that the deal should be shelved till January next as there is not enough time for the Congress to study it, acting Spokesman of State Department Gonzalo Gallegos said the deal is an 'important programme' and the Bush administration is working hard resolve any outstanding concerns by this year.
"I want to stress the fact that we believe this is an important programme; we believe that we can get it through this year. We're going to work toward that end," Gallegos said.
"And, obviously, anything that we proceed with will be consistent with the US law," he added, clarifying that a Nuclear Suppliers Group exemption for India will not supersede the Hyde Act.
Howard Berman, Chairman of the crucial House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had warned that an NSG waiver 'inconsistent' with the 2006 Hyde Act will jeopardise the Indo-US nuclear deal in US Congress.
Berman, stressed that Washington should make sure that the NSG should agree to terminate the pact if India conducts an atomic test.
"We're working hard to get the Indian civil-nuclear programme through this year. We're working with Congress to discuss the issues and resolve any outstanding concerns that they may have. We're working through the Nuclear Suppliers Group to obtain their approval by early September," Gallegos told reporters.
"We hope at that time to present the package to our Congress, and we hope that after discussions with them, that they will be able to pass that and we'll be able to proceed with this very important programme," he added.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency approved a safeguards agreement that will allow UN monitors to inspect India's civilian nuclear facilities. The deal must now get the approval of the NSG members and then be ratified by the US Congress to become operational.
Berman insisted that there will have to be a prohibition on transfer of enrichment, reprocessing and heavy water production technology by any NSG member to India, a stipulation that NSG supplier states will not allow India to reprocess nuclear fuel except in a facility that is under permanent and unconditional safeguards.
"All these complex issues should be examined in a serious and detailed fashion and it would be better to shelve the deal till the Congress meet in January 2009," he said, adding there is not enough time to present it to Congress by September 8 when it is scheduled to meet next.