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United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act

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Location: Washington, DC


UNITED STATES-INDIA PEACEFUL ATOMIC ENERGY COOPERATION ACT -- (Senate - November 16, 2006)

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Mr. ALLEN. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of S. 3709, the United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act. This legislation has been thoughtfully crafted and will help cement an important partnership with a vitally important Nation in a part of the world that will become increasingly important for the future.

I first want to thank the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Lugar, for his commitment to this agreement from the very beginning. Thoughtful, as he always is, I thank him for his knowledge, his expertise, his wisdom, trying to make sure this is appropriate for our country, as well as India, and making sure there are provisions in there that are beneficial to our country while also not harming the ability of our friends in India to pass it in their country as well.

There is no person in the Senate more knowledgeable on anti-proliferation issues than Senator Lugar. His leadership was instrumental in developing a bill with protocols that met the commitments made by our President while also respecting the safeguard agreements that have protected this country for decades. I thank our chairman.

The hearings by Chairman Lugar back in the spring, along with informative testimony of Secretary Nicholas Burns, were a necessary lesson for our colleagues on the committee, and I think the entire United States, that explained the benefits and also helped remove outstanding concerns about this historic pact. Chairman Lugar, earlier speaking on this measure, along with the ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Biden, addressed the specific sections of the bill, so I will not recite all of those provisions again for my colleagues. I wish to provide the principles behind it, the strategic goals that are achieved in this United States-India civil nuclear pact. I want to focus on the big picture and the long-term impact of this cooperation agreement.

First and foremost, the United States-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement is a significant foreign policy achievement for the advancement of our security. It is a significant achievement for the advancement of jobs, and also a significant achievement in improving the environment--the air quality particularly, in India. This strategic partnership between the world's oldest democracy, the United States, and the world's largest democracy, India, is desirable, and it is possible because we share the same values. We both believe in representative democracy. We believe in and are girded by the rule of law. We respect human rights and religious tolerance. We share the same goals for Asia and for the world, which are freedom and peace.

This pact, this partnership, this agreement, in my view, can be the beginning of a blossoming marriage between the people of the United States and the people of India. India is a vital ally and a key global partner in the war on terrorism. They understand it. They have been threatened in India. In fact, India has been hit by terrorism in the name of religious fanaticism and religious extremism. This agreement is a step forward also regarding concerns with nuclear proliferation. Some critics will argue this agreement undermines the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but when you look at the facts, India has no record of proliferating nuclear material, nuclear equipment, or technology to any other countries. In addition, India's nuclear weapons are there for self-defense and India has been a consistent practitioner of the ``no first use'' doctrine when it comes to nuclear weapons.

India has been an exception in this regard and, in my view, should be viewed differently than other countries that do not have such a record.

The fact is as a result of this agreement India will place a majority of its thermal power reactors under the International Atomic Energy safeguards for the very first time, and there also will be permanent inspections.

By contrast, Iran doesn't have the same sort of policy as India. Iran has kicked out the IAEA inspectors. This agreement helps bring India into the global nuclear mainstream where it is not right now.

It is very clear, whether it was Chairman Lugar or Senator Biden and others, if you examine this agreement it is going to significantly increase transparency and oversight of its civilian nuclear program.

We also ought to look at the economic and energy benefits of this cooperation. India has tremendous energy needs that will only increase as their economy and country grows and increasingly prospers.

The United States-India nuclear agreement strengthens energy security for the United States and India by promoting the development and stable use of clean nuclear power, rather than relying on the Middle East for oil and gas, particularly from Iran. Obviously, India benefits through a reliable, affordable energy supply. United States companies will benefit from increased jobs and economic opportunity in the India energy market. Cooperation from this will also ensue, I believe, in clean coal technology and also biofuels.

Having been in India last November-December, the air quality there is awful. The coal they have in India is dirty coal. They have to import coal.

There are millions of people in India prospering as a country, and increasing. There are millions of people who do not have electricity. For India to have its energy needs met, they are going to have to be able to import more or they are going to have to come up with creative approaches.

The U.S.A. is far more dependent on foreign sources of energy. We need to have more exploration of oil and natural gas in our country. We ought to be using more clean coal technology since we are the Saudi Arabia of the world in coal for electricity and gasification and liquification of coal. We also need advanced nuclear, biofuels, solar--a diversity of fuels for our energy independence rather than being so dependent on foreign sources of energy from the Middle East and hostile dictators around the world.

India is in a similar situation. In fact, they are even more dependent than the United States. There are concerns they will have to have a pipeline from Iran for natural gas or for oil. We are trying to get Iran not to develop nuclear weapons. One of the reasons geopolitically why it is difficult to impose sanctions or any sort of efforts to get them to comply is there are other parts of the world that are so dependent on Iran for natural gas or for oil.

In a sense, the energy independence and energy security concerns that we have in our country are also brought about for the people in India which are even more dependent on foreign sources of energy than we are. If India can have clean nuclear for electricity generation, that is going to obviously help the people of India. It will improve their air quality, clearly. As you all know, a barrel of oil, wherever it is produced, has the same price.

With the increasing economies of China and India and elsewhere around the world, for every bit of oil that is produced, the whole global market is competing for that barrel of oil. To the extent that India's demands can be somewhat ameliorated as well as ours in coal liquification or biofuels or other renewable approaches, it is going to help our energy independence in this insofar as India is concerned.

Beyond energy and jobs, we have grave threats facing the United States and also our friends and allies insofar as security. We need to build new alliances, and we need to strengthen existing alliances as well.

With that in mind, I think we ought to be looking further into the 21st century to determine what U.S. policy will be in Asia. What should it be? Where can we reasonably expect support to come from, whether in Asia or the Western Pacific?

Presently, some of the key allies that share our values are South Korea, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, and Australia. They are key leaders with us. Further positive concerted efforts need to be made with Pakistan and Indonesia. India has a key role in all of this. I think India is absolutely essential for our freedom and shared values but also our freedom advancement in innovation and our security.

As I mentioned, I was in India last fall. This was a key issue on the minds of Prime Minister Singh and other government leaders. India is a country with tremendous potential, amazing values, but also a lot of hardship, hard breaks, and poverty in that country. They need reliable energy. They are working in education. In fact, we can learn a lot from India insofar as education is concerned as young people in middle school are focused on high school exams to get into the India institutes of technology. We need to get more Americans from all backgrounds interested in engineering and science as India has done.

India is also so important to security--a country which will soon have well over 1.2 billion people, not only the world's largest democracy but the world's largest country in the next few years.

The challenges that face India's future development are making progress, but they are tremendous challenges. So while India is now a global economic power, it is going to be increasingly an economic power in the future. It is going to be a much more important voice in Asia as well.

So it is in the interest of the United States to engage India, to help it develop safe, clean, and reliable energy, and also further our existing ties with its leaders in government, especially the people of India who appreciate the United States. Of course, there is a great deal of trade between the United States and India. Many of the H-1B visa applicants are from India which are very important for Virginia's economy and for the economy of the United States.

I also believe that we need to--I urge my colleagues to--examine this in its totality. It is imperative that we pass this legislation and begin finalizing this agreement that was reached by the elected leaders of the United States and India. It is in our security interests. It is in our

economic interests. It strengthens the alliance which will be vital for years ahead.

I believe very strongly that this United States-India pact will be a marriage which will benefit all of us, not just now but for generations to come.

I thank my colleagues. I urge most respectfully the passage of the United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act with no killer amendments and let's allow this marriage between the United States and India blossom for our security, for our jobs, and our best interests through the years to come.

I thank Chairman Lugar again for his outstanding and remarkable wisdom and insight shepherding this measure through. I hope by the end of the day this will pass, and that this marriage will continue to bear fruit for generations to come.

I yield the floor.

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