Obama says will not change nuclear deal with India: report

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would not seek changes in a controversial nuclear deal with India and hoped it would be finalised by year-end, a magazine reported on Saturday.

“The existing agreement effectively balanced a range of important issues — from our strategic relationship with India to our non-proliferation concerns to India’s energy needs,” Obama was quoted as saying by the weekly Outlook news magazine.

“I am therefore reluctant to seek changes,” he said in the interview. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush had in 2005 unveiled the agreement which if finalised will allow India in to the fold of global nuclear commerce after having been shut out for decades.

Singh argues the pact is crucial for India’s energy security and continued strong economic growth.

But the Indian government’s left-wing allies who are staunchly opposed to the agreement last week withdrew their support over the issue.

The government will now face a confidence vote on July 22. Despite the political opposition, Singh’s government moved forward on an agreement subjecting the country’s civilian nuclear sites to international controls for the first time.

An approval by the UN atomic agency International Atomic Energy (IAEA) of the draft agreement is one of the several conditions India must fulfil to clinch the accord, apart from getting the nod from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

“A final judgement on the deal negotiated by the Indian and US governments … must await the IAEA’s approval of a safeguards agreement with India and changes to be agreed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Obama was quoted as saying.

“At that point, the US Congress will decide whether to approve the agreement. I continue to hope this process can be concluded before the end of the year,” Obama said.

Analysts have previously said that the agreement may face hurdles in finalising the agreement once Bush’s administration ends in January.

Courtesy :- Economic Times

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