A senior U.S. Congressman visiting India says time is running out for
New Delhi to finalize a civilian nuclear deal with the United States.
Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi that India's Congress Party-led
coalition government indicated it will press ahead with the pact,
despite strong opposition from its left-wing allies.
holding talks with senior Indian officials in New Delhi, U.S.
Congressman Gary Ackerman said there is very little time left for New
Delhi to seal a civilian nuclear energy pact with the present
administration in the United States.
The civilian nuclear accord
signed in 2006 would allow India access to civilian nuclear technology,
even though it has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
India still needs approvals from the International Atomic Energy Agency
and a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group before the pact
can go to the U.S. Congress.
Congressman Ackerman, who is
chairman of the House of Representatives committee on South and West
Asia, says time is getting shorter.
"We will in all likelihood
adjourn in September for the rest of the year," he said. "My concern is
with the calendar running as quickly as it is, it [nuke deal] now needs
a go ahead signal from an international agency, approval by the Nuclear
Suppliers Group, and we do not know that can we done before September."
In New Delhi, the Congress Party is making frantic efforts to salvage the pact.
pact has been in virtual limbo due to opposition from the government's
communist allies, who say it will compromise India's sovereignty.
in recent days, Congress Party officials have indicated that New Delhi
will go ahead and negotiate with the International Atomic Energy
Agency, despite repeated warnings by the communists that such a step
will prompt them to withdraw support.
The Congress Party has
been in talks with a small party, the Samajwadi Party - and is hoping
to gets its support in parliament if left parties walk out of the
The Samajwadi Party has made no commitments, saying it wants to get expert opinion on the merits of the deal.
prime minister says the deal is needed to safeguard India's energy
security and ensure fuel supplies for its growing economy.
nuclear pact is seen as a landmark accord, that if finalized, will
bring New Delhi closer to Washington and become the centerpiece of a
new strategic relationship between the two countries.