US President, George Bush, has signed the Indo-US nuclear deal to enact the US-India nuclear trade agreement. The landmark agreement was approved by the US Congress nearly a week ago. His signature has finally paved the way for the deal to be signed by US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and India’s External Affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee in Washington later this week.
The deal was to be signed by Rice on her recent visit to India, but it couldn’t happen as India had certain concerns over fuel supply and wanted assurance from Bush. Now, as Bush has signed the deal, it is ready to go into agreement between the two countries. 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.
Soon after signing the Indo-US nuclear deal into law, an elated Bush described the passage as a historical event that would start a new beginning in bilateral ties between two of the largest democracies in the world – India and US. Bush said that he was pleased to sign into law the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act, which approves the US-India 123 Agreement, which would ultimately reverse three decades of US policy (since 1974) and allow American businesses to enter India’s multi-billion-dollar nuclear market.
There were certain concerns that the legislation approved by the Congress may have a couple of riders regarding fuel supplies to India. But all such fears and doubts have been cleared by Bush’s remark. Bush tried to clear all such concerns that the Indian government had with regard to fuel supply and related issues and said that the bill passed by the Congress and the 123 Agreement are one and the same without any riders.
India seems satisfied with the fact that the concern over the law has been addressed to its liking. India has said that a couple of concerns on certain provisions of the bill have been met with Bush’s assurance on fuel supplies and advanced consent to it for reprocessing. Indian Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen remarked that Bush’s address at the signing of the legislation met all of India’s concerns.
At a ceremony organised at White House, Bush said, “This agreement sends a signal to the world that the nations that follow the path to democracy and show responsible behaviour will find a friend in the United States of America.” He even expressed that India and US are natural allies even though geographically they are half the globe apart and felt optimistic that the two nations would together march ahead in the 21st century. He termed the nuclear deal as a milestone in achieving the vision set by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and himself three years ago.