“The U.S.-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), with the help and support of the Indian-American community has been successful in impacting the passage into law of the U.S.-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. USINPAC had been at the forefront of advocating and lobbying the U.S. Congress and Indian policy-makers right since the deal’s inception in 2005. The efforts have included grass root activism around the nation and working on a daily basis with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill.
USINPAC recognized the importance of the nuclear deal and consequent access for India to nuclear energy as being in the strategic interests of both countries and their bilateral relationship. We organized fact-finding missions, conferences, Congressional briefings, receptions, weekly community calls and meetings with policymakers and stakeholders in both countries to understand and impact the passage of the agreement in the Congress. In 2007, USINPAC undertook a fact-finding delegation to India that sought answers to the question of why the U.S.-India agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation was being stalled. We met with the ruling UPA government, opposition leaders and the U.S. Ambassador to India to understand the differing perspectives.
What is the nuclear agreement?
The U.S.-India nuclear agreement is a watershed agreement between the two countries and has helped propel bilateral relations. The deal was first introduced in a joint statement between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 18, 2005. In December 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Henry J. Hyde U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, which provided a framework in U.S. law for facilitating civil nuclear cooperation with India.
The deal effectively lifts a three decade suspension on nuclear trade with India. As part of the agreement, the U.S. companies would be able to build nuclear reactors in India and also supply nuclear fuel for civilian purposes. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) approved a full-scope safeguards waiver in 2008 for India, as a step toward operationalizing the U.S.-India nuclear deal and allowing India to enter the international mainstream for civil nuclear power.
Highlights of USINPAC's role
We conducted meetings with the Congressional House Leadership to discuss and analyze the Nuclear Agreement. USINPAC met with Speaker Hastert, Congressman Charlie Rangel, and Congressman Chris Cannon for the same.
USINPAC further hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill with State Department Leadership and Congressional Leadership to discuss the Nuclear Agreement. Senior members of the Congress and State Department participated in it including the Assistant Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, Majority Leader Roy Blunt, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos, Congressman Eni Faleomaevaega – Ranking member on the House Subcommittee on Asia Pacific, Congressman Crowley Co Chair of the India Caucus, Congresswomen Sheila Jackson-Lee.
We also hosted a Fund Raiser for the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee: Sen Joe Biden.
USINPAC concluded a fact-finding delegation to India (October 22nd to October 24th 2007) that sought answers to the question of why the US-India agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation is stalled. The Henry J. Hyde US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006 was ratified by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush in December 2006. Thus, from the U.S. side, it is considered a done deal. However, we needed to understand why sections of Indian civic society and politics are so resistant to this deal.
USINPAC leadership from the U.S. and India met with senior leaders of the ruling UPA government, opposition party leaders, and the U.S. ambassador to India. Our sole intention was to understand differing perspectives, so that we could come back and report to our constituencies in the community and on the Hill, and while in New Delhi be sensitive to India’s internal democratic processes.
The delegation first met with senior leadership in the Congress party, which has the largest majority in the Lok Sabha (the House of Commons, roughly equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives). The Congress party had been responsible for structuring this deal from the Indian side. The delegation held talks with Prithvi Raj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Rajiv Shukla, a Rajya Sabha MP (Member of Parliament, Congress Party), Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science and Technology. The delegation had a detailed meeting with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
We also met Mr. T.K. Nair, Principal Secretary to the PM, to see if the bureaucracy thought differently about the situation. On the other end of spectrum, the delegation met with Mr. Rajnath Singh, president of the BJP, Mr. Arun Shourie, the chief spokesperson of the BJP on the nuclear deal; and Mr. D. Raja, a voice of the Left combine.
Every party recognized USINPAC as an organization that is working in an unbiased fashion. All parties who met the delegation conveyed their readiness for a dialogue with the others. Each party requested the delegation to initiate and proceed with a series of communication with all the parties if the opportunity arose.
To review a summary of the above mentioned delegation please click here
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