Jeffrey LewisWhat Happens in Vienna …

State’s Dick Stratford ventured over to the Hill yesterday to brief the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staff on the US-India 123 Agreement and what went down in Vienna. I have a little readout for you.

Stratford basically confirmed the outlines of Glenn Kessler’s excellent story today in the Washington Post.

Stratford also provided staffers with a basic account of the negotiations: The key holdouts, as of Friday afternoon, were New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, and the Netherlands. By Saturday morning, only Austria and New Zealand remained as holdouts, awaiting direction from their capitals.

What happened? Stratford told staffers, without qualification, that the United States made no side deals with any of the holdouts. SECSTATE Rice apparently made the same pledge to Representative Berman on Tuesday.

Several staffers think this is all very suspicious because — as Stratford admitted and as I have pointed out on the blog — the US didn’t make any substantive changes to the waiver that would have addressed these concerns.

But the Kiwis and others all fell into line, anyway.

One last note — the Administration and the supporters of the deal in Congress may try to waive the 30 day waiting period and wrap everything up in the next two weeks. I have some questions about whether that is feasible under the Atomic Energy Act, so I offer it as a possibility.


  1. JF

    Report in ‘The Hindu’:

    Our reactors will come with fuel and reprocessing rights, says France

    Unlike the U.S., which does not wish to make binding commitments on fuel supply or grant irrevocable reprocessing rights to India, France has made it clear that the provision of fuel for any reactors it sells as well as reprocessing are not issues. “We believe India has the capability and the right to reprocess spent fuel,” French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont told reporters here

  2. Arch Roberts Jr. (History)

    Since the Hyde Act requires a joint resolution to approve the India agreement, all that would have to be done is include a provision waiving the balance of the statutory review period. This is the cleanest way for supporters to accomplish this goal. However, given the way these things work, no doubt there are poisin pill provisions being concocted and, lawyerly extrapolations being insisted upon, that will complicate matters. A bit silly, in my view, since additional conditionality only kicks the can down the road toward the inevitable entry into force of the agreement (unless of course India tests or commits some other serious transgression).

  3. JF

    The Hindu

    India won’t wait for 123 to sign deals with France, Russia

    _But regardless of the fate of the 123, India appears finally to have made up its mind to clinch its deals with France and Russia on a priority basis. “We will go ahead and sign with the French in Paris this month and with the Russians when [President] Medvedev comes to Delhi on December 4,” said an official source on condition of anonymity. The NSG had opened the door and India intended to go through it. Confirming that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had asked India to wait till the 123 was passed so that American companies were not disadvantaged, the sources said India had made no commitment to the U.S. “We have never said we will wait,” the source said, noting that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had immediately clarified this issue when his remarks earlier in the week were taken as suggesting otherwise. “As for disadvantaging U.S. firms, the question does not arise because we are talking of a free market and competition,” the source added.

    Hitting out at U.S. attempts to revise key provisions of the 123 agreement, the sources said that if President Bush and the State Department did not believe the text’s provisions were legally binding, “why did they put us through seven months of negotiations?” India, the source said, was now waiting to see how the U.S. domestic process got completed. “Let him complete his internal process and then come to us. [But] if the 123 comes with changes or conditions, we’ll see [our options].” Asked whether India might even refuse to sign the agreement if it came with riders that negated its key provisions, the source said, “Let us see. Until we actually sign, nothing is over_

  4. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    Vienna is a lovely city, but it isn’t generating much action on the blog. Why don’t you do a post about what is or isn’t happening in Congress regarding 123.

    I would also like to get some of your readers’ thoughts on yesterday’s NYT front page article “With Push From White House, U.S. Arms Sales Rise Sharply.” It calls these sales “perhaps … one of President Bush’s most long lasting legacies.” That is quite a statement considering 123 and NMD.

  5. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    Please add to my last post: “…considering our national debt, ill conceived war in Iraq, loss of civil liberties, sullied international reputation and credibility, extraordinary rendition, suspension of habeas corpus, Guantanamo, 123, and NMD. Oh, there is also his Tax Rebate Economic Stimulus Plan!

  6. Eagle58

    I have not tried to dig back exhaustively through your postings vis-a-vis the India accord, but “these concerns” do not seem to be defined in this one. Can you elaborate?