Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nuclear suppliers approve US-India deal

Forty-five nuclear supplier states have approved a US proposal to drop a ban on trade with India, advancing a US-Indian atomic energy deal, diplomats in the closed meeting said.

The decision followed a tense debate over conditions for the move demanded by Nuclear Suppliers Group members to minimise any damage to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has not joined.

Details were not immediately known.

One hurdle remained before the US-India deal could take force - ratification by the US Congress.

It must act before adjourning in late September for elections or the deal could be left to an uncertain fate under a new US administration.

"This is a forward-looking and momentous decision," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke to US President George W Bush after the decision, said in a statement.

"It marks the end of India's decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of the technology denial regime.

"I thank the United States and other member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the role they have played in ensuring this outcome.

"The opening of full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the international community will be good for India and for the world."

The fuel and technology deal would help India meet exploding energy demand in an environmentally sound way and open a nuclear market worth billions of dollars.

Mr Singh said the NSG approval recognised India's impeccable non-proliferation record and its status as a state with advanced nuclear technology.

"We look forward to establishing a mutually beneficial partnership with friendly countries in an area which is important both for global energy security and to meet the challenge of climate change," he said.

US President George W Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have welcomed the "historic achievement", the White House said.

"The two leaders congratulated each other on the consensus reached at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna and expressed appreciation for the joint efforts made there to move forward with civil nuclear cooperation between the United States and India," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said of a phone call between Mr Bush and Mr Singh.

"This is a historic achievement that strengthens global nonproliferation principles while assisting India to meet its energy requirements in an environmentally friendly manner."

"The United States thanks the participating governments in the NSG for their outstanding efforts and cooperation to welcome India into the global nonproliferation community.

"We especially appreciate the role Germany played as chair to move this process forward."


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