US senator prepared to push Indian nuclear deal in Congress

Other News Materials 2 July 2008 07:17 (UTC +04:00)

A senior US senator said he would push Congress to adopt a civilian nuclear deal with India if New Delhi was keen to pursue it as reported.

"If these reports are in fact true, and I hope they are, I am committed to work hard in order to get Congress to approve such a deal -- as long as the required steps are taken and if the agreement with the United States meets the requirements of US law," said Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, the AFP reported.

India's prime minister Manmohan Singh promised Monday to bring to parliament the nuclear deal, which is fiercely opposed by left-wing parties in his ruling coalition, reports said. He appears ready to risk the collapse of his minority government.

The deal, in which Washington would provide New Delhi with nuclear fuel and technology for the first time in three decades, is being pushed by Singh's dominant Congress party as crucial for India's energy security.

But a grouping of left-wing parties who prop up the government argues it will draw the traditionally non-aligned country too close to Washington.

Biden, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, noted that he had told Singh during a visit to New Delhi in February that "time is running out very quickly."

"Every day without an agreement leaves us fewer legislative days before this Congressional term ends," he said.

US President George W. Bush's administration and the US Congress has warned India about the limited time available for the nuclear deal to be approved by the legislature before Bush leaves the White House in January 2009.

India, a declared nuclear weapons power that refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is currently barred from buying atomic energy technology.

New Delhi needs to negotiate an accord with the International Atomic Energy Agency to allow inspections of its atomic plants and garner a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group before it can enter the global nuclear trade.