US lobbying hard in Senate to endorse 123 agreement

US lobbying hard in Senate to endorse 123 agreement

Washington: The Bush Administration is pushing hard in the Senate to get the Indo-US nuclear accord endorsed before 26 September and has clearly spelt out that it has made a “political commitment" to India to ensure a “reasonable steady supply" of nuclear fuel under the 123 agreement.

“Should disruptions arise, for example trade disputes, a commercial firm fails to meet its requirement, then, we are firmly determined to do everything we can to help in that instance", Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns told the Senate Powerful Foreign Relations Committee, which held an extended hearing on the deal.

The push by the administration also got the backing of some key lawmakers who favoured a fast track process for the initiative, which is being termed as a cornerstone of a new relationship with an emerging Asian power.

“It would be well advised to approve it this month... rather than wait till next year," Democratic Senator Chris Dodd who chaired a meeting last night of the Senate Foreign relations committee on the nuclear deal said.

The administration came in for close line of questioning particularly on the issue of supply of nuclear fuel to India, which has raised hackles in New Delhi, with Dodd quizzing Burns on whether the supply will have legal sanction.

“The commitments that the President made that are recorded in the 123 agreement are firm, solemn commitments on the part of President..... they are political commitments," Burns said.

On another contentious issue of India’s right to test, US official said, “Just as how India had the sovereign right to test, the United States enjoyed the same right to respond".

“We believe the Indian government intends to uphold the continuation of the test moratorium it committed to in 2005 and reiterated in its Sept 5 statement," Burns said.