Journalist | Writer | Analyst
The Senate has overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-India 123 Agreement by 86 to 13. The Bingaman-Dorgan amendment was defeated by voice vote prior to the main Bill being taken up for voting around 8:30 pm on October 1, or around 6 a.m. on October 2, IST, after Senator Chris Dodd strongly urged that it be “respectfully rejected”.
When the Bill itself was moved, Senators Richard Lugar and Dodd urged its immediate adoption.
The Senate Bill is
not exactly identical to the House version — the latter has minor variations aimed at strengthening Congress’s right to be consulted and informed by the executive. The two versions have to be reconciled in conference but this is likely to be a minor matter.
Next step to watch out for: President Bush signing the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act, and perhaps issuing a statement repudiating some provision of the Act.
But it is my belief that the underlying problem with the Act — namely the adoption of riders which derogate from the substantive legal commitments made by the US in the 123 Agreement — remains.
Condoleezza Rice travels to Delhi on October 4 and will press for the 123 to be signed. India needs to carefully review the legal implications of signing the Agreement when the other side has given advance notice of its reservations about key provisions.