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Bid to block N-deal defeated

By Prem Panicker in Washington, DC
July 20, 2005 23:50 IST
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Will Congress back President George W Bush's decision to provide nuclear fuel for Indian reactors, is a question being widely asked in the US media as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first-ever official visit to the US winds to a close.

Too soon to tell - but Tuesday provided a straw in the wind of sorts, when representatives of the House and the Senate defeated by voice vote an amendment proposed by Representative Edward Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts) that sought to block the US from sharing nuclear technology with India.

Markey, who had said the US-India deal on nuclear fuel and technology was likely to set the US on a course 'to destroy the nonproliferation regime', had tagged the amendment onto an energy bill the House and Senate was considering, and attempting to reach a compromise on.

The defeat of the amendment is by no means the end of oppositionĀ - in all likelihood, Markey could himself re-introduce his bill as a standalone. Tom Lantos (Democrat, California), senior Democratic member of the influential House International Relations Committee, had, the other day, referred to Markey as "one of the most influential lawmakers" and said he had, with his legislation, made his intention to oppose the US bid to provide nuclear technology and fuel very clear.

The swiftness with which Representative Markey's first effort was blocked does however serve as an indicator of sorts to what is to come.

Markey has traditionally been dead set against non-proliferation, even criticizing the proposed US sale of F16s to Pakistan on the ground that the cutting edge military aircraft is capable of carrying nuclear missiles.

He is a ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over transfer of civilian nuclear technology.

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Prem Panicker in Washington, DC