Journalist | Writer | Analyst
Some preliminary thoughts, minutes after seeing President Bush sign the 123 enabling At into law…
His spoken remarks were cleverly crafted to go as far as he can in accommodating Indian concerns without withdrawing his own earlier statements to Congress. Thus –
* None of the administration’s offensive interpretations have been repudiated even as the textual sanctity of the 123 Agreement as submitted to Congress is emphasised.
* No offensive reiteration of Hyde. Act isn’t even explicitly mentioned, though Bush says “the Agreement is consistent with the Atomic Energy Act and other elements of U.S. law”.
* Positive acknowledgment that USG has made “fuel assurance commitments” which remain unchanged despite the new legislation (which says these assurances are political and not legal)
* Positive statement about the new law enabling the President to “accept, on behalf of the U.S., the obligations contained in the agreement”.
* Positive acknowledgment of advance reprocessing consent rights.
In my opinion, India should still formally reiterate its understanding of what the balance of rights and obligations within the 123 Agreement are because President Bush has not repudiated any of the reservations that have been entered by the U.S. about the meaning and scope of the Agreement via the new law as well as the administration’s written communications to Congress.
This should be done via a statement in Parliament, as well as in a communication to the U.S. at the time when the 123 is to enter into force.
There is still some merit in the world being told the U.S. too is now competing for a slice of the Indian nuclear world. But GOI will still be foolish as hell to commit any money to American nuclear equipment and material…
8 October 2008
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 8, 2008
Statement by the President on the Occasion of Signing H.R. 7081
I am pleased today to sign into law the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act, which approves the U.S.-India 123 Agreement. The passage of this legislation by the Congress marks another major milestone in achieving the vision that Prime Minister Singh and I set forth on July 18, 2005, to transform the relationship between our two countries and to establish a strategic partnership. This Act will strengthen the relationship between the United States and India and deliver valuable benefits to both nations. The legislation does not change the terms of the 123 Agreement as I submitted it to the Congress. That Agreement is consistent with the Atomic Energy Act and other elements of U.S. law. This legislation is important as it enables me to bring the 123 Agreement into force and to accept on behalf of the United States the obligations contained in the Agreement. The Agreement grants India advance consent to reprocessing which will be brought into effect upon conclusion of arrangements and procedures for a dedicated reprocessing facility under IAEA safeguards. In addition, the legislation does not change the fuel assurance commitments that the U.S. Government has made to the Government of India, as recorded in the 123 Agreement. The passage of this legislation reflects the common view of my Administration and the Congress as to the value of nuclear cooperation and is in the interest of the United States and India.
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