Substantial changes in the Conference Report language

  • Nothing prevents India from reaching bilateral accord
  • Some demands of lawmakers retained, but language is not intrusive

    Washington: In the landmark bill that will approve the civilian nuclear deal between India and the United States, there have been several "substantial" changes in the language of the Conference Report addressing many of New Delhi's concerns.

    Analysts said India's objections on the issue of sequencing, along with those on end use monitoring and Iran, were addressed.

    This has to do with a determination in the original Senate Bill that an agreement between India and the International Atomic Energy Agency on application of safeguards in perpetuity entered into force.

    The 74-page bill says that for the presidential determination to take place, "India and the IAEA have concluded all legal steps prior to signature by the parties of an agreement requiring the application of IAEA safeguards in perpetuity ..."

    On the issue of prohibition on certain exports and re-exports in the original Senate version in Section 106, the bill said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission might not authorise licences for export or re-export to India of any equipment, material or technology related to enrichment of uranium, reprocessing of spent fuel or production of heavy water.

    The legislation has moved away from the restrictive to the positive and called for transactions to India under certain conditions.

    Congressional sources stress that the final document is perhaps the best legislation that could have been written taking into account the expectations and concerns of Congress, the Executive Branch and India.

    "There is nothing in the law as it is now framed that prevents India from negotiating and concluding a bilateral cooperative agreement [the 123 Agreement] that meets all its requirements," a Congressional source told PTI.

    It is being stressed on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that in the process of reconciliation care has been taken to retain some of the demands of the lawmakers especially those pertaining to determinations and reporting requirements but in a language that does not seem objectionable, intrusive or going beyond the parameters agreed upon by New Delhi and Washington.

    Exemption for India

    The bill carves out an exemption in American law for civilian nuclear trade, in exchange for Indian safeguards and inspections at 14 civilian nuclear plants in the country. Eight military plants would remain off-limits.

    Congressional action was required as the U.S. law bars nuclear trade with countries, such as India, which have not submitted to full international inspections.

    Binding sections

    In the binding sections, the bill asks the President to present to Congress a summary of the plan provided by India to the U.S. and the IAEA to separate civilian and military nuclear facilities, materials and programmes.

    He has also to inform it of the steps taken by India to work with the U.S. for the conclusion of a multilateral treaty banning production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

    The President has to report on the steps the U.S. has taken and will take to encourage India to identify and declare a date by which it will be willing to stop production of fissile material for nuclear weapons unilaterally or pursuant to a multilateral moratorium or treaty and prevent the spread of nuclear-related technology.

    The President has been asked to report on steps India is taking to secure materials and technology applicable for the development, acquisition or manufacture of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the means to deliver them by applying comprehensive export control legislation and regulations.

    He will provide a description of the steps taken to ensure that the proposed deal does not in any way assist India's nuclear weapons programme.

    Under the accountability programme, the President has to ensure measures to put in place a detailed system of reporting and accounting for technology transfers, including any re-transfer in India.

    Such a system shall be capable of providing assurances that the identified recipients of nuclear technology are authorised to receive the same, and such technology will be used only for peaceful safeguarded nuclear activities and not for any military or nuclear explosive purpose.

    No transfer of facilities

    The nuclear technology identified for transfer will not be re-transferred without prior U.S. consent.

    Facilities, equipment or materials derived from the use of transferred technology will not be transferred without the prior consent of the U.S.

    The President will report to Congress any material non-compliance by India with the non-proliferation commitments undertaken in the July 18, 2005 joint statement, the separation plan presented to the Indian Parliament, the safeguards agreement and the additional protocol between India and the IAEA.

    The bill calls for termination of exports of nuclear and nuclear-related material and equipment or technology if there is any materially significant transfer by an Indian with the knowledge of the Government.

    Section 106 says all waivers given under the bill will cease to be effective if the President determines that India has detonated a nuclear explosive device after the enactment of the law. PTI

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