ID :
Fri, 09/05/2008 - 19:22
Auther :

US denies it covered up key documents on Indo-US nuclear deal

Sridhar Krishnaswami

Washington, Sep 5 (PTI) Rejecting that it had covered up
documents on stoppage of fuel supplies if India conducts a
nuclear test, the U.S. has said New Delhi's obligations are
very clear as it had agreed to a moratorium on nuclear

"Certainly, India's obligations under the 123 agreement
are very clear and the Indians have agreed to a moratorium on
testing. And we expect they will adhere to that commitment,"
State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

A 26-page document released by Howard Berman, Chairman of
the House Foreign Affairs Committee, contains an assertion by
the Bush Administration that its assurances of nuclear
supplies to India are not meant to "insulate" it against the
consequences of a nuclear test.

"The Indians understand what our views are with regard to
nuclear testing. We've made them clear. And they understand
those. There was no attempt to cover up anything," Wood said
brushing off suggestion that Washington kept the document
under wraps to protect the government in India.

"... people have that interpretation, but that certainly
was not the position of the U.S. government. We weren't trying
to keep anything under wraps. We've had discussions with
various members of Congress about this agreement. We'll
continue to do so.

"We've stressed over and over again the importance of
this agreement, not only to the United States and India, but
to our overall nonproliferation efforts around the world," the
official said.

The 'disclosures' set off a flurry of political activity
in India with the B.J.P. and the Left demanding resignation of
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even as the U.P.A. government
rejected charges that New Delhi will lose the sovereign right
to conduct an atomic test.

The whole episode comes at a time when the 45-nation
Nuclear Suppliers Group is meeting in Vienna to consider a
waiver for India to enable it to do nuclear commerce.

Pressed on this and asked if the answers were kept under
wraps to make it easier for India to get the agreement
approved, Wood merely replied, "With all respect, I think I've
said about as much as I can say on the subject at this point".

"... I don't want to get into all of the discussions that
are ongoing about the agreement. Obviously, a number of
countries have concerns about the agreement. And they've
expressed those concerns. We have tried to give answers. The
Indians have, as well.

"I don't think it serves the interests of any of us to
talk about negotiations that are ongoing, except to say this
agreement is important. We think it contributes greatly to the
global nonproliferation efforts," the State department
official said.

"And we're going to continue to work with India and the
other parties concerned with this agreement. And we hope the
NSG will give an exception for India to its full-scope
safeguards rule," he added.

"... I don't want to speculate on things, but if that
agreement is approved by the N.S.G., then I believe it has to
go to India's parliament, it has to approve it, and we'll
obviously -- we'll go from there," he said.

When asked if Washington would cut off supplies if India
conducts a nuclear test, the senior State Department official
replied, "You're asking me to speculate on something, and I'm
not going to do that. I'm just going to tell you exactly what
our policy is."