US Senate concludes debate on Nuclear deal

US Senate concludes debate on Nuclear deal

Washington: The debate on a legislation on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the US Senate concluded on Wednesday night and Senators will vote on it early Thursday as top Congressmen termed the killer amendments as “unnecessary" and asked their colleagues to fall in line by supporting the Bill.

Acting chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Christopher Dodd came back after the recess to formally close the debate on the approval legislation for the nuclear deal and thanked the staff members of lawmakers.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid said there will be a brief statement before each of the two India votes prior to the voting.

The Senate will be voting later on the Dorgan-Bingaman amendment, which will then be followed by a vote on the approval legislation, the HR 7081.

Both the votes will have a threshold of sixty votes. Meanwhile, Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain will be in Washington DC for the vote on the emergency economic package.

The Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Biden will be on Capitol Hill as well but it is not known if the three will be present for the US-India vote.

Senator Tom Harkin rejected the United States India civilian nuclear agreement and the accompanying approval legislation from a non-proliferation point of view.

He also questioned the premise of the view that India is a close friend of the United States by pointing to the voting record of New Delhi at the United Nations.

As the Senate met today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a nuclear test by India would result in “most serious consequences", including automatic cut-off of US cooperation as well as a number of other sanctions.

This is not a non-proliferation enhancement act. It is a non-proliferation degradation and weakening act. If we pass this legislation, we will reward India for flouting the most important arms control agreement in history, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and we will gravely undermine our case against hostile nations that seek to do the same.

At a time when one of our primary national security objectives is to mobilise the global community to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons, the legislation before us would undermine our credibility and consistency, he said.

“There is nothing in this agreement to prevent India from continuing on a parallel path, its robust nuclear weapons programme. India is allowed to continue to producing bomb- making material and is free to expand its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

“Even worse, there is nothing in this legislation to prevent India from resuming nuclear weapons testing. So I ask why in the twilight of the bush presidency, and we know what his ratings are, and how the people feel about this presidency -- why are we rushing to pass this gravely flawed agreement?" Senator Harkin asked.

“It has been said time and time again, India is a great friend to the US. I suggest that one go back and look at the votes in the UNGA and see how many times India votes with the US. And has since the establishment of the UN. It is dismal," Senator Harkin said, pointing to a statistic that India voted only 14% of the time with the United States, one of the lowest in the world.

“I believe this to be a grave mistake," Senator Harkin said.

“That’s why I am joining with Senator Dorgan and Senator Bingaman and others to offer a commonsense amendment to this legislation in order to send an unambiguous warning to India with regard to resumption of nuclear testing," Senator Harkin said.