During the Senate's previous consideration of this important legislation, Senator Obama supported efforts that would have killed this accord. His own running mate, Senator Joe Biden, described one of the provisions Senator Obama voted for as a 'deal breaker.' We took a different approach: I wanted to make the deal, not break it, and I have supported the US-India Civil Nuclear Accord from the beginning.
The official summary of HR 7081 has just been put out. It's interesting to see Congress's authoritative explanation of the new Act's provisions:
1. It makes clear that all aspects of the Atomic Energy Act and the Hyde Act other than those relating to how the agreement is approved will continue to apply to the U.S.-India agreement.
2. It reaffirms that approval of the agreement is based on U.S. interpretations of its terms. This relates to several issues, including the U.S. view that fuel assurances provided by President Bush are a political, rather than legally binding, commitment.
3. It requires the President to certify that approving the agreement is consistent with the U.S. obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty not to assist or encourage India to produce nuclear weapons.
4. Before any licenses can be issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under the agreement, the bill requires that India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA enter into force, and that India file a declaration of civilian nuclear facilities under the safeguards agreement that is not “materially inconsistent” with the separation plan that India issued in 2006.
5. The bill requires prompt notification to Congress if India diverges from its separation plan in implementing its safeguards agreement.
6. The bill establishes a procedure for congressional review of any subsequent arrangement under the agreement that would allow India to reprocess spent nuclear fuel that was derived from U.S.-supplied reactor fuel or produced with U.S.-supplied equipment. Under current law (Section 131 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954), such arrangements take effect 15 days after notice thereof is published in the Federal Register.
7. The bill enhances general oversight of nuclear cooperation agreements by requiring that the President keep the Foreign Relations Committee “fully and currently informed” of any initiative or negotiations on new or amended civilian nuclear cooperation agreements.
8. The bill requires the President to certify that it is U.S. policy to work in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to achieve further restrictions on transfers of enrichment and reprocessing equipment or technology.
9. The bill also directs the President to seek international agreement on procedures to guard against the diversion of heavy water from civilian to military programs, and requires the President to keep Congress regularly apprised of how that effort is proceeding. (emphasis added)