The controversial Indo-US nuclear agreement on supplying latest technology and fuel to India’s civilian nuclear power plants has finally been approved by the United States Senate.
However, in contrast to the House of Representative bill passed earlier this year, the Senate bill has added two clauses restricting re-export and insisting on the ‘end use monitoring’ on any transferred nuclear technology, both of which are viewed with suspicion in NPT non-signatory India.
As a result, the Indian government is not yet committing itself to the deal as it is hoping that these provisions will be deleted in the final version to be cleared soon by the reconciliation session of the US Congress, making it “consistent with the agreement” signed between President Bush and Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh in July 2005.
Senators and representatives will try to agree a final mark up version to send to President Bush before the new session of Congress opens in January. If this is achieved, the agreement could be signed into law by Bush as early as May.
However, while both houses back nuclear trade with India, with Congress in the midst of a power switch following disastrous mid-terms for the Republican party, without a rapid resolution the merging of the two bills could drag on for some time.
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