Five days after the Nuclear Suppliers Group granted India an exemption to engage in global civilian nuclear trade by lifting a more than three-decades old ban on it, United States President George W Bush transmitted the agreement to the US Congress for review and an up or down vote that would ultimately consummate the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.
A few hours after visiting Indian Defence Minister A K Antony met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who assured him that the Bush administration was confident of pushing through the deal before the Congress adjourns on September 26, the White House submitted the agreement to Congress.
Earlier, in a flurry of meetings, Rice met House foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Congressman Howard Berman, who is an opponent of the deal. She also met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to lobby for the Congress to quickly take up the agreement for review and subsequently schedule a vote on the House and Senate floor for its expeditious passage.
In a statement, the White House said it was transmitting the text of the agreement between the US and India 'concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy'.
"The proposed Agreement provides a comprehensive framework for US peaceful nuclear cooperation with India. It permits the transfer of information, non-nuclear material, nuclear material, equipment (including reactors) and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production.
"It does not permit transfers of any restricted data. Sensitive nuclear technology, heavy-water production technology and production facilities, sensitive nuclear facilities, and major critical components of such facilities may not be transferred under the agreement unless it is amended," the statement said.
"I am pleased to transmit to the Congress, pursuant to section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C.2153), the text of a proposed Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of India Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy," Bush has said in his memorandum released by the White House late on Wednesday night.
Bush said that the proposed agreement has been negotiated in accordance with the AEA and other applicable law.
"The Agreement permits the enrichment of uranium subject to up to 20 per cent in the isotope 235. It permits reprocessing and other alterations in form or content of nuclear material subject to it," he said.
In the case of such activities in India, these rights will not come into effect until New Delhi "establishes a new national reprocessing facility under IAEA safeguards and both parties agree on arrangements and procedures under which the reprocessing or other alteration in form or content will take place" he added.
"The Agreement will remain in force for a period of 40 years and will continue in force thereafter for additional periods of 10 years each unless either party gives notice to terminate it six months before the end of a period," Bush told the Congress in his statement.
"Moreover, either party has the right to terminate the Agreement prior to its expiration on one year's written notice to the other party. A party seeking early termination of the Agreement has the right immediately to cease cooperation under the Agreement, prior to termination, if it determines that a mutually acceptable resolution of outstanding issues cannot be achieved through consultations," he said.
"An extensive discussion of India's civil nuclear programme, military nuclear programme, and nuclear nonproliferation policies and practices is provided in the Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement and in a classified annex to the NPAS submitted to the Congress separately," the statement says.
"The AEA incorporates the definition of 'nuclear-weapon state' from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which defines it to mean a state that has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967. Therefore India is a non-nuclear-weapon state for NPT and AEA purposes, even though it possesses nuclear weapons," Bush said.
The US President said, "The Hyde Act established authority to exempt the Agreement from the full-scope safeguards requirement of section 123 a.(2) of the AEA, as well as certain other provisions of the AEA relating to supply under such an agreement, provided that the President makes certain determinations and transmits them to the Congress together with a report detailing the basis for the determinations."
"I have made those determinations, and I am submitting them together with the required report as an enclosure to this transmittal," he said.
"In reviewing the proposed Agreement, I have considered the views and recommendations of interested agencies. I have determined that its performance will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defence and security. Accordingly, I have approved it and I urge that the Congress also approve it this year," Bush said.
External Link: Bush's letter to US Congress