“India understands

our view on testing”

The deal is important to overall

non-proliferation

Washington: The United States has rejected the charge that it had covered up documents relating to the nuclear deal that set off a storm in India, saying it had never attempted to keep anything under wraps.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood also said New Delhi’s obligations were very clear as it had agreed to a moratorium on nuclear testing. “The Indians understand what our views are with regard to nuclear testing. We have made them clear. And they understand those. There was no attempt to cover up anything,” he said, brushing off suggestion that Washington kept the document under wraps to protect the government in India.

“ ... people have that interpretation, but that certainly was not the position of the U.S. government. We were not trying to keep anything under wraps. We have had discussions with various members of Congress about this agreement. We will continue to do so.”

A 26-page document released by Howard Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, contains an assertion by the Bush administration that its assurances of nuclear supplies to India were not meant to “insulate” it against the consequences of a nuclear test.

The Opposition parties in India have hauled the government over the coals, saying it has been kept in the dark by the Bush administration and that the government had lied to Parliament about fuel supplies in the event of India testing a weapon.

Asked whether Washington would cut off supplies if India conducted a nuclear test, the senior State Department official said: “You are asking me to speculate on something, and I am not going to do that. I am just going to tell you exactly what our policy is.” Mr. Wood said: “Certainly, India’s obligations under the 123 agreement are very clear and the Indians have agreed to a moratorium on testing. And we expect they will adhere to that commitment.”

“We have stressed over and over again the importance of this agreement, not only to the U.S. and India, but to our overall non-proliferation efforts around the world.” Asked whether the State Department answers to a Congressional committee were kept under wraps to make it easier for India to get the agreement approved, Mr. Wood said: “With all respect, I think I have said about as much as I can say on the subject at this point.”

“ ... I don’t want to speculate on things, but if that agreement is approved by the NSG, then I believe it has to go to India’s Parliament, it has to approve it, and we will obviously — we will go from there.” — PTI