‘US focused on bringing India n-deal to fruition’

By Arun Kumar,

Washington : The United States has reiterated its priority right now is to bring into fruition the India-US nuclear deal and that’s where its policy was focused presently.

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“…With regard to civil nuclear cooperation, as I said a few days ago, the priority for the administration right now is to try to bring into fruition the 123 Agreement with India,” US state department deputy spokesman, Robert Wood, told reporters Thursday.

“And that civil nuclear cooperation agreement, that’s where our focus is right now,” he added.

Wood’s reiteration came in response to a question about the status of the administration’s consideration of the scrapping of a civilian nuclear agreement with Russia in response to Russian action in Georgia.

US, he said, was looking at various options in terms of its response to Russian “aggression in Georgia… But I don’t have anything to say here about what steps we may or may not take at this point”, he said.

White House spokesperson Dana Perino was more direct about the nuclear agreement with Russia. “I don’t think there’s anything to announce yet, but I know that that is under discussion,” she said when asked if a decision had been taken on scrapping it.

Since the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) failed to reach a consensus on giving India a waiver at its Vienna meeting last week, Washington has declared time and again that the “principal focus” of its policy right now is to get the green signal from the NSG and then present the India nuclear deal to the Congress early September.

The India deal and not the one with Russia is the current focus of America’s nuclear commerce policy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Monday. The White House too made similar comments about the agreement with India taking precedence over the one with Russia that was submitted to the US legislature last May.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon was in Washington Monday to fine tune the language of a waiver acceptable to the 45-member NSG without adding any new conditions.

Menon had a long session with his counterpart, US Undersecretary of State William Burns, followed by a meeting with President George W. Bush’s acting National Security Adviser James Geoffrey to work out a formulation acceptable to both NSG and India.

The nuclear cartel that controls global export of nuclear fuel and know-how had last week failed to reach a consensus at its Vienna conclave on giving India a clean waiver in the face of objections from some sceptics. It meets again Sep 4-5 to decide on the India-specific waiver.