Washington: The US House of Representatives postponed the formal vote on the approval legislation for the US-India civilian nuclear agreement on 27 September following a 40-minute debate.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, a known opponent of the deal, supported the Senate version of the Bill saying the deal is a positive step as it will bring India into the non-proliferation regime.
Fellow Democrat Edward Markey, who lead the charge on behalf of those opposed to the Bill, insisted on a recorded vote at the end of the debate following which the voting was postponed and it is now expected to be taken up tomorrow.
“I’m a strong advocate of closer US-India ties, including peaceful nuclear cooperation. I voted for the Hyde act which established a framework for such cooperation. The bill before us today will approve the US-India agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation,” Berman said.
“Integrating India into a global non-proliferation regime is a positive step,” he said, adding Bush Administration has assured him they will push for an NSG decision prohibiting the export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to states that are not party to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Fellow Democratic Ellen Tauscher, however, disagreed maintaining that the Bill flies in the face of decades of American leadership to contain the spread of the weapons of mass destruction.
“The India deal would give a country with a dismal record of non-proliferation all the benefits of nuclear trade with none of the responsibilities. India has been denied access to the market for three decades and for good reason. India is not a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty and has not agreed to disarmament or signed the treaty,” Congresswoman Tauscher said.
Regretting his decision to oppose the Bill in spite of being a strong supporter of India, Ohio Democrat Dennis Ku of India and that the US should work with India on initiatives to eliminate all weapons for the safety of the global community.
“... the administration has cited Iran for minor breaches of the non-proliferation treaty and used these to raise support for military attack on Iran. Yet, it is undercutting the treaty to build nuclear weapons. The administration would like this body to approve a civilian agreement with India despite its refusal to sign the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty. India has nuclear weapons and has no intention of limiting its capability. This undermines efforts by endorsing India’s refusal to sign the agreement...” Congressman Kucinich said.
“...we now have an opportunity to have a new beginning with a country that was not in a good relationship with us in decades past. This could be a profitable relationship and we can, indeed, embraces the world’s largest democracy as compared to during the cold war where we had two closer relationships which we are paying for now with China which is the world’s biggest human rights abuser,” Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said.
“If we expect India to be our ally, we must treat them as an equal, which is what this deal does. India has never... lifted beyond her borders and I believe this is an important aspect of this relationship that needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating this legislation before us,” another strong supporter in the House and in the Foreign Affairs Committee Democratic Congressman of New York Joseph Crowley said.