WASHINGTON, June 27: A congressional panel endorsed a US plan on Tuesday to share civilian nuclear technology with India, a crucial first step toward approval of the deal.
Supporters called it a defining moment in US-Indian relations.
A Republican lawmaker, however, said the deal ‘knifed’ the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and called it a sad day for efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
The 37-5 vote in the House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee was for legislation to exempt India from US laws that restrict nuclear trade with countries that have not submitted to full nuclear inspections. India developed its nuclear weapons program outside the NPT, which it has refused to sign.
Separate legislation on the deal was to be considered on Wednesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The full House and Senate would also have to approve legislation, then reconcile differences between their bills.
While the bill enjoyed support from several major lawmakers, some were skeptical.
Republican Rep. Jim Leach said passage of the Bush administration plan would open the door for ‘a whole host’ of countries to press claims for similar nuclear cooperation. He mentioned both friendly nations _ South Korea and Japan _ and those the United States considers unsavory _ Iran and North Korea.
“The NPT has been knifed by an executive action,” Mr Leach said. “Anyone who wants to present this as a happy day is making a very serious mistake.”
The legislation lawmakers considered on Tuesday was based on an original bill proposed by the Bush administration. Rep. Henry Hyde, Republican chairman of the House committee, said the earlier bill was ‘profoundly unsatisfactory’ because it removed Congress’s oversight role.—AP