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Indo-US nuclear deal a complicated process: Mulford

Source: PTI
Last updated on: November 14, 2005 23:33 IST
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Asserting that the Bush administration was committed to implementing the July 18 nuclear agreement with India, the United States on Monday made it clear that India would have to present a credible plan of separating civil and nuclear establishments before the American Congress decided on lifting of sanctions on it.

Describing the issue as a "complicated process" involving several players, US Ambassador to India David C Mulford said the International Atomic Energy Agency also would have to be positive on the deal for it to be fully effective but noted that officials of the nuclear watchdog had recently made positive statements on the issue.

"Both India and the US wanted to get support of the 35-country Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) whose majority of members were also positive on the deal, except for China which was undecided yet," he told mediapersons in New Delhi.

"The (Indo-US civil nuclear) deal is a priority for President George Bush. It (finalisation of the deal) would not have been possible but for his personal intervention," the US envoy said on the eve of his travel to Washington.

Mulford said Bush remained committed on the deal and he would work to see it implemented. Seeking to clear misunderstandings in a section of media, he said under the deal, India had agreed to do certain things, most importantly separating its civil and nuclear industry.

"We are waiting to see that separation plan," he said, adding that if the US administration found it credible, it will put it before the Congress for legislation to lift sanctions against India.

"Token separation is not going to be acceptable," the US envoy said, adding that credibility of the Indian plan would be judged by experts.

Under the agreement, he said, the US agreed that it would seek to alter legislation so as to normalise civil nuclear relations with India and India would then enjoy the same benefits as major nuclear players.

Agreeing that separation of civil and nuclear establishments by India would be simultaneous to changing of the US law, he said, "The (US) Congress will wait for India's plan to make its judgement."

Mulford said hearings have already begun on the issue, with government and others, including those opposed to the deal, presenting their views to the Congress. Noting that implementation of the deal would depend on how fast India comes up with the plan, he hoped it would be done soon and Congress will pass it.

The majority of Congressmen are positive, he said.

The US envoy said after the agreement is implemented, it will be on permanent basis and will involve certain IAEA protocol like inspections. He said his country was encouraging the IAEA to take a positive view on the deal.

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To a question pertaining to former External Affairs Minister Nawar Singh's comments on revision of India's policy on the IAEA vote on Iran's nuclear issue, Mulford said his country expected India to vote according to its assessment of national interest.

"We don't regard it as a policy of the government.. He made the statement in special circumstances," Mulford said.

Refusing to speculate on how India would vote at the next meeting, he said New Delhi had, at the last meeting, expressed its assessment of its national interest.

At the next vote, "we expect India to assess its national interest and vote accordingly," he said.

The envoy's comments came amid intense pressure from the government's crucial Left allies who want India to vote along with Iran.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Sunday said the issue can be and should be made to evolve broad-based consensus on the issue to avoid a vote on it.

Mulford said diplomacy was underway but the US was not engaged in it. He said the issue would go to the UN Security Council if diplomatic efforts failed.

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