US House passes nuke Bill

New Delhi, July 27 | Updated: Jul 28 2006, 05:30am hrs
Hours after US House of Representatives passed the Bill in Washington enabling the Indo-US nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday attempted to allay suspicion of the Left and the Opposition once again by reaffirming that India would determine its stand only after the US legislative process is over.

The latest articulation by the Prime Minister, UPA managers contended, was the closest that he could come to in stating that his government would not endorse the deal blindly. They said the Prime Minister, in other words, was also trying to send across the message that adopting a House resolution would reduce elbow room for India since the end-product was still not in sight to make a final assessment.

Let it (legislative process) be completed. Once it is completed we will then determine whether there are elements which go beyond what we have committed in July 18 (agreement) last year, Singh said in the Rajya Sabha, and added, The House of Representatives has taken up the Bill and there is a Senate Bill. When there is difference between the two Bills there will be a conference.

I cannot say that I can predict what the US legislative process will be. All I can say is if US legislative process leads to an end product which is not consistent with what we have committed that would be the determining factor of what we can do, he said.

The Left and the BJP, however, have not yet declared an end to their demand for a House resolution although parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi on Thursday evening said he was confident that the issue was over.

He asserted that the Prime Minister would be making a suo motu statement on the issue next week.

Meanwhile, charge daffaires at the US embassy Geoffrey Pyatt said the Bill passed by the US House of Representatives did not involve any shifting of goalposts and contained no provisions that contradicted the July 18 understanding.

I would challenge anyone to point out anything in this Bill that is inconsistent with the July 18 statement, he said in response to questions about the US trying to impose extra conditions on the deal.

Pyatt said the Bill didnt impose any moratorium on Indias production of fissile material and allayed fears about annual certification by the US President, saying that it was the responsibility of the US administration to impose zero obligations on India. He said there were international organisations that determine the quantity of fissile material in different countries, and added, India is not a target of the US non-proliferation regime.