US will block N-fuel in case of N-test
In curiously timed disclosures, the US has made it clear that its assurances of nuclear fuel supplies to India are not meant to "insulate" it against the consequences of a nuclear test.A day ahead of the meeting of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna, where the fate of the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal is expected to be decided, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman has released State Department's answers to 45 questions on the deal which indicate clearly differing perceptions on key issues between New Delhi and Washington.The questions were submitted to the State Department by Berman's predecessor Tom Lantos way back in October last year and anwsers were sent on January 16 this year. For nine months, these documents were kept under wraps and have been made public just before the Vienna meeting.The answers were considered "so sensitive, particularly because the debate over the agreement in India could have toppled the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the State Department requested they remain secret even though they were not classified," according to Washington Post which quoted a Spokesman for Berman as saying he had made the answers public because the US Congress must have "relevant information."Berman recently wrote a letter to the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in which he threatened that the deal will be blocked in the US Congress if the Bush Administration does not incorporate additional conditionalties in any NSG waiver to India.In its responses, the State Department has said that as outlined in the 123 Agreement, should India detonate a nuclear explosive device, the US has the right to cease all nuclear cooperation with it immediately, including the supply of fuel. It also stipulates that US can request India to return items transferred from it including fresh fuel. In addition, the US has the right to terminate the agreement on one year's written notice.The State Department letter says the US assurances are intended to guard against disruptions of fuel supply to India that might occur through no fault of its own. It cited instances like a trade war resulting in the cut off supply, market disruptions or the failure of a company to fulfill a fuel supply contract.In such circumstances, the US would be prepared to encourage transfers of nuclear fuel to India by other NSG members."The fuel supply assurances are not, however, meant to insulate India against the consequences of a nuclear explosive test or a violation of non-proliferation commitments," the State Department said.The State Department also took the line that ceasing nuclear cooperation with India would be a "serious step." "The US would not take such a serious step without careful consideration of the circumstances necessitating such actions and the effects and impacts it would entail," it said. Such circumstances would include detonation of a nuclear weapon, violation of the 123 Agreement or termination, abrogation or violation of the IAEA safeguards. The State Department contended that although the Hyde Act allows for transfers of sensitive nuclear technology under certain circumstances, it was not the intention of the Administration to do this "outside" the deal.It insisted that there was no plan or intention to negotiate an amendment to the proposed agreement to transfer to India sensitive nuclear facilities or critical components of such facilities.The Department was asked whether US would limit any transfer of dual use technology to India's enrichment and reprocessing facilities to those that were participants in a bilateral or multinational programme to develop proliferation-resistant fuel cycle technologies.In its response, the Administration said it was not its intention to assist India in the design, construction or operation of sensitive nuclear technologies through the transfer of dual-use items "whether under the agreement or outside the agreement." If India were to develop such facilities, potential dual-use transfers could be considered only under the exceptions granted in the Hyde Act, it said.It said the US has not discussed in detail with India what form "appropriate verification measures" might take if the IAEA decides that it was no longer possible for it to apply safeguards under the Indo-US agreement.
Labels: Indo US Nuclear Deal