Alexander Discusses Support for the President's Nuclear Proposal With India

Posted on April 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made the following remarks at an April 13 press conference in New Delhi, India in support of the President’s civilian nuclear power proposal with India. If fully implemented, the proposal would allow cooperation and trade efforts between the U.S. and India which would support nuclear power in India. Alexander, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is a cosponsor of S. 2429 which would make changes to existing law that are needed to fully implement the U.S.-India agreement. In remarks to press in New Delhi, Alexander said: “I believe President Bush has shown real vision by recognizing that in this new century there may be no more important two-country relationship than the one between the United States and India. And the rest of the country, including the rest of the Congress, is quick to catch up with our President. He has broad support in understanding this. That’s the first thing. “We recognize that we have a strategic interest. You’re facing the same sort of energy and environmental issues that we are. And our two countries are unique in the world because we each have formed one nation from many different cultures and that’s hard to do and a great accomplishment. “Second on education, we heard earlier from the Foreign Minister about the contribution that land grant universities have paid to agriculture here. I hope as we look to the future that our great land grant universities in the United States, which include colleges of agriculture, can form partnerships here to assist with agriculture. And I hope our universities as well as our companies can help to train more engineers and scientists here as well as in the United States. “While we have been out-sourcing jobs in the United States, we have been in-sourcing brain power and much of that brain power comes from India, and we’re grateful for it because it helps create good jobs in the United States. We have 80,000 Indians who are students in the United States out of about 572,000 foreign students who study in the United States. India has more students studying in the United States than any other country. “Finally, Senator Enzi mentioned that I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee. I support and am a cosponsor of the President’s civilian nuclear power proposal with India. It has growing support as we consider it. I hope that it can pass this year. It’s important for our two-country relationship. Nuclear power is essential if we’re going to have clean air and low-cost energy in this country and in the United States. I look forward to working with the President and with other senators as we consider it, and I hope that it is enacted this year. It will help us enact it without amendment and more rapidly if India can negotiate safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Association before the Senate acts on the agreement. That would help.” When asked about the “realistic chances of the deal going through the Senate before the summer recess,” Alexander said: “I never predict the United States Senate because there are 100 members, and it operates literally by unanimous consent. It is possible that the Senate could act before August. I would hope that it would. As I mentioned earlier, India moving ahead with negotiations on the safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency and showing at least initial progress on the negotiations that have to do with the United States being able to be a commercial supplier are important steps that will accelerate the Senate consideration. “But moving by August would be moving rapidly given the Senate schedule. It’s already receiving accelerated attention and the President is strongly for it. I participated in a hearing just last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which Secretary Rice made a forceful presentation. It was a well attended hearing.” Alexander participated in the April 13 press conference during a congressional delegation trip to India, Europe and the Middle East led by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The congressional delegation's primary focus was learning more about foreign educational systems and the implications to U.S. competitiveness in the emerging world market. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings were also part of the delegation.