U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, gave the following statement on the House floor last night encouraging members to support the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal before Congress adjourns this week. The New Jersey congressman believes the agreement will benefit both nations' economies, reduce pressure on energy markets and strengthen the U.S. - India strategic global partnership.
"Madam Speaker, I rise today to encourage my fellow members of Congress to support the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Deal. Earlier this month, the Nuclear Suppliers Group waived an existing ban on nuclear trade with India. This paved the way for Congress to act swiftly to pass the U.S.-Indian Civil Nuclear Deal into law. The agreement will reduce pressure on energy markets, benefit both nations' economies, and strengthen the U.S.-India strategic global partnership.
"This deal will bring positive benefits to both the United States and India. It will permit both countries to engage in shared civil nuclear research, development and commercial trade of technology and fuel, while guaranteeing safeguards on all civil nuclear material.
"Completion of the deal would represent an important milestone in accelerating commercial and cultural ties between the American people and the people of India, but obstacles remain. We must work with the Bush administration to ensure the agreement comes up for a final vote this year, before Congress adjourns. The United States has a significant strategic partnership with India. This civilian nuclear cooperation deal is a critical component to building on that successful partnership.
"The agreement strengthens energy security for the U.S. and India. By diversifying the energy markets and creating greater energy supply, the Civil Nuclear Deal promotes the development of stable and efficient energy markets in India. Expansion of U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation should, over time, lessen India's dependence on imported hydrocarbons, including those from Iran.
"The nuclear deal will also bolster both nations' economies. For the U.S., the agreement opens up a major new market for technology exports and investment that is currently off limits. And it brings India into the global nuclear non-proliferation regime as a fully invested partner. India is committed to preventing proliferation from its civilian nuclear program and protecting against diversion of nuclear materials and technologies.
"Finally, the Civil Nuclear Deal will provide the foundation of a promising U.S.-India alliance that will serve as a defense against terrorism and nuclear proliferation. The U.S. has an important stake in ensuring regional stability in South Asia, even as Pakistan continues to produce and test nuclear weapons without proper safeguards. With uncertainty in Pakistan and the continuing influence of al Qaeda on the Afghanistan and Pakistan border, it is essential that India remain our strategic ally.
"Fifteen years ago, I formed the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans in order to work for a stronger bilateral relationship between the U.S. and India. Today, the world's two largest democracies have established a remarkable strategic partnership that can only be strengthened by civil nuclear cooperation.
"In the coming days, we should all do everything we can to see that the U.S. Civil Nuclear Deal receives final approval in Washington so that the world can begin to benefit from its implementation and we can embark on a new era of U.S.-India relations."