Journalist | Writer | Analyst
The House of Representatives on Saturday passed HR 7081 — the ‘United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act’ — granting legislative approval to the US-India 123 Agreement.
The vote was 298 in favour to 117 against.
Among Republican Congressmen, the split was 178-10.
For Democrats, however, the vote was more even: 120 in favour to 107 against. A total of 17 Congressmen did not vote. Under House rules, a two-thirds majority of those present and voting was required for the Bill to pass, i.e. 278 votes. The final roll call can be found here.
Congressman Howard Berman sponsored the Bill, after he said Condoleezza Rice assured him the U.S. would make the achievement of a decision to prohibit the export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology to states that are not signatories” to the NPT its highest priority at the November meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Dr. Rice later clarified what she meant:
Asked to comment on Mr. Berman’s use of the word “prohibit” she said, “I think the wording actually is to seek strict limits on,” according to the transcript.
“…at the NSG, the United States has pursued this policy in the past, but we have pursued several other initiatives at the same time.
“And what I said to Chairman Berman, given that the Administration is coming to an end, this is something that we hope is doable. I couldn’t make any promises about delivery, but we would seek to do this,” she clarified.
“You know that the President has spoken about the need to do something about enrichment and reprocessing. And I think a global approach to this issue of the technologies is an appropriate one. But this has been our policy. But I think what Chairman Berman is speaking to is that we had also paired it with several other initiatives, and we’ll seek this one as the highest priority now,” she said.
The Senate is likely to approve an identically worded Bill on Monday, President Bush will then sign it into law, and Dr. Rice is slated to travel to Delhi on October 3 to get the 123 Agreement signed by the Indians.
So what should India do?
1. Simply roll over and sign
2. Sign it with a strong reiteration of its national understanding, repudiating the riders that have been inserted by President Bush and Congress?
3. Tell Condi, thanks but no thanks.
Comments and suggestions welcome….