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Home > News > PTI

India, US finalise civil nuclear deal

July 27, 2007 19:08 IST
Last Updated: July 27, 2007 20:55 IST

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Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Tango

India and the United States on Friday announced the finalisation of the agreement for civil nuclear cooperation which offered ''enormous strategic and economic benefits'' to both the countries.

The announcement, described as a 'historic milestone' by the two countries, was made in a joint statement issued by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The finalisation of the text would now permit the two countries to move forwaqrd on the US-India civil nuclear cooperation initiative, first announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and US President George Bush [Images] on July 18, 2005 and reaffirmed on March 2, 2006.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan said the Indo-US nuclear deal fulfilled the terms outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament on August 17.

Negotiators of both the countries understood the limit of possibilities and how far to go to get the best deal, Narayanan said.

"We have got a very good deal, which we believe should meet individual legal requirements of both the countries," he said.

Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar, who has been critical of the nuclear deal, said he was satisfied with the deal as the right to reprocess spent fuel and re-using it for other purposes had been agreed to in the deal.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, who was also present at the press meet, hoped that India will get unconditional exemption from Nuclear Suppliers Group's guidelines on fuel supplies.

Menon clarified that there were no conditions attached with the deal. "This was an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation and we did not negotiate anything else," he said.

On criticism that India has mortgaged its right to conduct nuclear tests to the US, Narayanan said, "We have not mortgaged any right. If anything, we have only enhanced our right."

On apprehension in the West that India will use the civil nuclear cooperation to enhance its strategic programme, he shot back, "If we need additionality to our strategic stockpile, we know how to do it. We don't need to use this route for it."

"This agreement is intended primarily for civil nuclear cooperation. We are not using it as an excuse to enhance our strategic capabilities. The earlier these countries forget that, the better it is."

Meanwhile, the United States Department of State, in a press release, said the US and India have reached a historic milestone in their strategic partnership by completing negotiations on the bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, also known as the 123 agreement.

This agreement will govern civil nuclear trade between our two countries and open the door for American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector.

The conclusion of negotiations on this agreement marks a major step forward in fulfilling the promise of full civil nuclear cooperation as envisioned by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the release stated.

The next steps include India's negotiation of a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and support for nuclear trade with India in the forty-five member Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Once these additional actions have been completed, US President George Bush will submit the text of the agreement to US Congress for final approval.

Civil nuclear cooperation between the United States and India will offer enormous strategic and economic benefits to both countries, including enhanced energy security, a more environmentally-friendly energy source, greater economic opportunities, and more robust nonproliferation efforts, the release stated.

With UNI Inputs

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