Question: You were just discussing the second waiver that you will be seeking from the Congress before the 30-day limit. What are the chances of this passing? There have to be two amendments. Can you also explain the process, to clarify it?Ambassador Mulford: The legislation will be placed by the administration before the Congress and only then we will begin to get a response about exactly how and whether in this session they will be willing to address this issue.
Question: Can the 123 Agreement that was agreed upon between the two countries be amended?Ambassador Mulford: No, in the Congress, it’s an up-or-down vote, so it will be on the basis of the 123 Agreement as it is. Again, nobody is quite able to judge yet what the attitude of congressional leaders will be to an agreement which closely follows a legislation that was voted on overwhelmingly by both parties in 2006.
Question: Two questions. One, how confident is the administration that the Congress will approve? Second, I believe that the government of India will take up the fuel supply issue with Washington. Have they done so yet?Ambassador Mulford: On the first question, you’ll have to await the judgment of the Congress about whether and to what extent the 123 Agreement that is submitted complies with the Hyde Act in their view. That’s a congressional judgment. It’s their prerogative.
I’m confident and optimistic that the bipartisan majorities that we saw at the time of the votes are still intact. I think you could see that in the statements that McCain and Obama both made, so that would seem to still be a situation where the majorities are intact. The fuel assurances are contained in the language of the 123 Agreement. They were employed word for word in the 123 Agreement. There are no other fuel assurances. That is where you look to get your answer, and I don’t know anybody in New Delhi who is raising this issue with Washington.
Question: The prime minister is going to Washington in September. Do you think the bilateral 123 Agreement will be signed in Washington after the Congress acts if it goes through?Ambassador Mulford: I don’t know the answer to that. I’m presuming if it’s passed by the Congress, it’s an opportunity certainly to sign it, but nothing has been decided and announced.
Question: What were the key points that are put in to make sure that (the NSG waiver) wouldn’t crimp the agreement that the US and India have?Ambassador Mulford: You have to ask the people who were involved. The consensus was achieved, all the parties agreed, and therefore I don’t see that there’s a problem. To me, the waiver seems to be a straight-forward, clean document.
Question: If this is still pending when the new government takes office how far back in the procedure do you have to go to resume that process, and how long will that take? Ambassador Mulford: One cannot speak on behalf of a new Congress and a new administration, but I think that having gotten to the point where the international consensus has been accomplished and the legislation has been presented to the US Congress, the prospects for the content of this deal being preserved in its presentation to a new Congress are greatly enhanced.
Also because all the various steps have been accomplished now, there is very considerable prospect that the Congress would act much earlier than otherwise would have been the case if these things had not been done.
7 months ago