Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Chief US negotiator says India inaction threatens 2008 nuclear agreement decision

Chief US negotiator says India inaction threatens 2008 nuclear agreement decision

The chief U.S. negotiator of a nuclear agreement with India said it will be impossible to complete this year unless India quickly makes a "courageous decision" to endorse it.
President George W. Bush, who leaves office next January, considers the pact a major accomplishment of his administration.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Thursday that a dispute within the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's governing coalition is jeopardizing an agreement that benefits both nations.
"I'm afraid it's time for the government to decide. We hope the decision will be positive," said Burns, who is retiring from the State Department next week. "If India is to be given this great victory, which is so clearly in the Indian national interest, there has to be a courageous decision made by the government."
India has been shunned by the world's nuclear powers since it conducted its first underground nuclear test in 1976. India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, another reason that has kept the country out of the global civilian nuclear network.
Burns headed the U.S. negotiating team that agreed after 2 1/2 years on the final U.S.-Indian document that would give India access to U.S. civilian nuclear technology and fuel. In exchange India would provide safeguards and allow international inspections at its 14 civilian nuclear installations. Eight self-designated military plants would remain off-limits.
Congress has given its preliminary approval.
India's vote has been barred by a communist party within Singh's coalition that fears the pact would give Washington an ability to meddle with Indian policies.
"I think the Indian government is quite sincere in wanting to push this agreement forward," Burns said.
He said, however, that "there's obviously a question of politics within the Indian coalition, and we don't want to interfere in internal affairs of the coalition in India."
Nevertheless, he said recent American visitors to India, including Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates had told their hosts that "time is very short."
Even with India's endorsement, the two countries still must obtain an exception for India from the rules of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, countries that export nuclear material. Indian officials also must negotiate a safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.


Updated : 2021-05-06 07:54 GMT+08:00