Signed, Sealed and Delivered – India-U.S. Nuclear Deal Now Law

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Oct. 10 – President Bush on Wednesday signed legislation that reverses three decades of U.S. policy and allows American businesses to enter India's multibillion-dollar nuclear market.

The U.S. agreement on civil nuclear cooperation permits American businesses to sell nuclear fuel, technology and reactors to India in exchange for safeguards and U.N. inspections at India's civilian — but not military — nuclear plants.

The deal will give India access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel in return for inspections of its civilian, but not military, nuclear facilities. "India can count on reliable fuel supplies (from US) for its reactors," Bush said, adding "We will give consent to India for advanced reprocessing."

India says the accord is vital to meet its rising energy needs however,critics say it creates a dangerous precedent. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the deal will help India to liberate itself from "the constraints of technology denial of 34 years".

Furthering the deal, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will ink the bilateral nuclear cooperation accord (123 agreement) in Washington on Friday.

Throughout the Cold War, relations between India and the United States were chilly. In the past decade, however, ties have grown closer in a range of areas, including trade, energy and security. The United States is now India's largest trading partner.

Congress last week gave final congressional approval to legislation authorizing civilian nuclear trade with India, which built its atomic bombs outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By signing the authorizing legislation, Bush is required to certify that the agreement with India is consistent with U.S. obligations under the treaty, an accord designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. He must also certify that it is U.S. policy to cooperate with international efforts to further restrict transfers of technology related to uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

U.S. opponents of the nuclear agreement say lawmakers rushed consideration of a complicated deal that could spark a nuclear arms race in Asia. The extra fuel the measure allows India to purchase, those critics say, could boost India's nuclear bomb stockpile by freeing up its domestic fuel for weapons.

For a detailed chronology of the U.S.- India Nuclear deal click here.