The Bush administration Thursday stressed its determination to fulfill
its side of the landmark U.S.-India nuclear agreement after the
government of Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh said it is ready to
risk a confidence vote to get the deal through parliament in New Delhi.
Time may be running out for U.S. Congressional approval this year.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
administration is welcoming the apparent end of the parliamentary
impasse in India on the nuclear deal, though it is not predicting
outright that U.S. Congressional approval can be obtained before the
end of President Bush's term.
Opposition from leftwing factions
in the Indian coalition government have stalled parliamentary action on
the nuclear package for many months. Prime Minister Singh, after
bargaining with minor parties, said Thursday he is ready to push for
action despite the risk of losing a confidence vote.
At the same
time, the Indian government has submitted a draft nuclear safeguards
agreement to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, where
approval by the U.N. agency's governing board is needed for the deal to
The nuclear accord reached by President Bush and
Prime Minister Singh in 2005 would give New Delhi access to U.S.
nuclear technology, while opening non-military Indian nuclear sites to
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the accord at a meeting Wednesday on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Japan.
a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack welcomed the
new developments as a significant step forward for the U.S.-Indian
relationship, the Indian nuclear program, and the international
Though acknowledging that time is
short for getting final approval in the U.S. Congress, McCormack said
the administration is prepared to do all it can to achieve that:
course we're interested in seeing this agreement move forward, but we
also made clear that there were certain decisions that the Indian
government needed to make. They have apparently made those decisions
and we as a result are fully committed to doing everything that we can
to fulfill our end of this agreement," he said.
Before the U.S.
Congress can act, the agreement must be cleared by both the IAEA and
the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which governs trade in reactors
and nuclear fuel.
Speedy action by the IAEA is considered likely but the matter may face some obstacles in the Suppliers Group.
action in the U.S. Congress, meanwhile is threatened both by resistance
from some Democrats, who accuse the Bush the administration of diluting
U.S. non-proliferation policy, and the political timetable.
rules require that Congress be in session for 30 work days to consider
the package and there are less than 40 work days available before the
planned September 26th adjournment.
Democratic leaders have said
they oppose re-convening Congress for a so-called "lame duck" session
after the November election, partly because Democrats anticipate
election gains and do not want the current Congress to be extended.
proponents of the deal warn that if Congress fails to act this year,
India can turn to other suppliers and the U.S. nuclear industry could
potentially lose billions of dollars in business.