The Bush administration says it will do all it can to try to remove
remaining obstacles to the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation accord now
that India's government has survived a parliamentary confidence vote on
the issue. But officials admit time for action in the U.S. Congress is
running short. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
officials are relieved that the stalemate over the nuclear deal in the
Indian parliament is over, but they say there are no guarantees the
package can still be approved this year in the U.S. Congress, which is
pushing toward an early election-year adjournment.
The nuclear deal, reached by the two governments in 2005, has been a second-term foreign policy priority for President Bush.
would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and fuel, even
though that country is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
India would open its non-military nuclear sites to international
Tuesday's confidence vote won by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh ended an impasse with leftist parties in the Indian
parliament that had put implementation of the complex accord months
Before the U.S. Congress can approve enabling
legislation, the agreement must be cleared by both the International
Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers
Group, the NSG, which governs trade in reactors and uranium fuel.
a news briefing, Acting State Department Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos
said the Bush administration will work to move the agreement forward
but said it remains to be seen if there is enough time, especially in
the U.S. Congress which aims to finish its session by September 26.
going to be communicating to the Hill how important we believe this
measure is for the United States, how important we believe this
strategic partnership will be for India, for us, and for others
concerned with security around the world. We understand that the
calendar is tight. We have the situation that we have. But we do look
forward to moving forward with this and will do so as quickly as we
can," he said.
Legislative rules require that the India deal
must sit before Congress for 30 days of continuous sessions before a
vote, and the 30-day clock can only begin after approval by both the
IAEA and NSG.
A key Congressional Democrat, Ed Markey, who
chairs the House Bipartisan Task Force on Non-Proliferation, said
earlier this month there is simply not enough time left and that
administration hopes for action are just fiction.
The India deal
has broad support but some members from both parties, including Markey,
contend that it undermines the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
leaders have said they oppose re-convening Congress for a so-called
"lame duck" session after the November election, partly because they
anticipate election gains for Democrats and do not want the current
Congress to be prolonged.