India-US N Deal on Track: Nirupama Rao

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Mar 16 (IANS): Describing the India-US civil nuclear deal as "a major definitive milestone in Indo-US relationship", Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said the implementation of the landmark accord is "proceeding smoothly and satisfactorily".

"We are in the process of operationalising the agreement through close coordination between our two governments," she said in an address Monday at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, a Washington think-tank.

The civil nuclear liability bill is ready for introduction, and in all likelihood it would be introduced after the parliament recess, Rao said in response to a question about the law which must be in place before US firms can supply nuclear equipment to India.

"An important dimension of the landmark agreement on civil nuclear cooperation between our two countries is the substantive role that the United States nuclear power companies can play in the addition of more nuclear energy to India's energy mix," she said.

Seeking US support for India's membership of the UN Security Council, she said: "Both our governments are agreed that the new global realities require that we revisit and reorganize existing governance models which were put in place over six decades ago."

"We see our case for permanent membership of the Security Council as valid and legitimate and we seek the support of the United States in this endeavour," Rao said.

Supporting President Barack Obama's vision of a nuclear weapon free world outlined last April, she noted "this has been consistently espoused by the Indian leadership for about six decades."

In 2006, India presented specific proposals in the UN General Assembly as possible building blocks of a new global, verifiable nuclear disarmament framework, Rao said.

"Presently, we wish to see the emergence of a consensus in the Conference on Disarmament on issues that the international community considers essential, including negotiations for a fissile material cutoff treaty".

India was, committed to global efforts for preventing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, she said noting, "Our lists and guidelines are harmonised with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime even though we are not as yet members of these regimes."

"Driven by common concerns about the security of nuclear assets, particularly in the backdrop of the increasing threat of terrorist access to them, India and the US are partners in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism."

Rao said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would participate in the Nuclear Security Summit to be hosted by Obama next month and "We believe that the Summit can be milestone in addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism."

"We also hope that India and the US can find other opportunities to work for the safe, secure and proliferation resistant expansion of nuclear energy around the world," she said.



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