India Nuke Deal Worth 'Billions'
by P. Parameswaran in Washington
The Australian
March 11, 2006

A landmark US deal extending civilian nuclear technology to India could open up 100 billion dollars in business ventures for Americans in the Indian energy sector, a top US business lobby group said overnight.

US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clinched the deal in New Delhi last week that still required mandatory US Congress approval for implementation. It gives India access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology in return for placing a majority of its nuclear reactors under international inspection.

"This agreement could provide the US business community with 100 billion dollars worth of new opportunities in India in the energy sector alone," said Dan Christman, the US Chamber of Commerce's senior vice president of international affairs.

It would also spur energy-starved India's economic reforms and open markets to US investment in key areas from IT and telecom to pharmaceuticals and insurance, he said as Congress mulled legislative action necessary to clear the deal.

The Bush administration has proposed to Congress that an India-specific amendment be made to the US Atomic Energy Act, which currently prohibits nuclear sales to states which are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

India is currently barred under US and international law from acquiring foreign nuclear technology because it refused to sign the NPT and developed nuclear weapons.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "gave to the congressional leadership this week in the meetings she had, some ideas for how this legislation could be written," a senior State Department official said Friday.

"We have to respect the prerogatives of Congress but we are suggesting India-specific amendments to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954," Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs said.

"It's a waiver authority ... We are not seeking relief from US law for any country in the world except India and we don't anticipate putting any country forward. So it is India specific," Burns said after briefing the US Chamber of Commerce on the deal.

The chamber, which represents more than three million American businesses and organisations, said it would make a "massive grassroots effort" to win congressional approval of the agreement.

The deal would not only foster a stronger strategic bilateral partnership but also enhance nuclear non-proliferation efforts, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and open the door to more trade between the two large democracies, the chamber said.

"We're confident that once Congress has all the facts, they will strongly endorse an agreement that will help cement a new and important strategic partnership between the United States and India," Mr Christman said.

"We're going to ensure that Congress and the public get those facts and clearly understand the extraordinary benefits of stronger ties between our two great democracies," he said.

The pact, which also must be approved by the 44-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, would end three decades of isolation under which India was denied help for its civilian energy program after it first tested a nuclear weapon and refused to sign the NPT.

Mr Bush faces a battle to get the accord through the US Congress where legislators are concerned that regimes like Iran and North Korea will cite it to pursue their own nuclear weapons ambitions.

Under the deal, New Delhi will split its closely entwined civilian and military nuclear facilities and put 14 of 22 civilian nuclear reactors under international inspection by 2014.

Critics have focused on a provision allowing India to declare fast breeder reactors out of reach of international inspectors. They "breed" more fuel than they use and could be employed to develop more nuclear weapons.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.




Home | About | How to Use this Site | Sitemap | Privacy Policy

India Resource Center (IRC) is a project of Global Resistance -- "Building Global Links for Justice"
URL: http://www.IndiaResource.org Email:IndiaResource (AT) igc.org