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Friday, 10 October 2008

Bush signs India-U.S. nuclear bill into law

It does not change fuel assurance commitments, he says

Historic Act: President Bush signs the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act during a ceremony at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. With him (from left) are Joseph Crowley and Eliot Engel, legislators; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Senators Chris Dodd (partially visible) and John Warner; Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman; Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Ronen Sen; and Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Washington: Addressing India’s concerns over certain provisions in the United States Congressional legislation on the nuclear deal, President George W. Bush assured New Delhi that the new law made no changes in fuel supply commitments or the terms of the 123 agreement.

Signing the bill into law at a ceremony in the White House, Mr. Bush said, “the bill I sign today [on Wednesday] approves the 123 Agreement I submitted to Congress and establishes the legal framework for that agreement to come into effect.”

Maintaining that the bill was clear that the agreement with India was consistent with the Atomic Energy Act and other elements of the U.S. law, he said “the legislation makes no changes to the terms of the 123 agreement” sent to Congress and accepted on behalf of the U.S. all the obligations that were part of the accord.

In an apparent attempt to assuage Indian apprehensions, Mr. Bush said in a statement that “the legislation does not change the fuel assurance commitments that the U.S. government has made to the government of India as recorded in the 123 agreement.

The agreement also grants India ‘advance consent to reprocessing’ — which will be brought into effect upon the conclusion of arrangements and procedures for a dedicated reprocessing facility under IAEA safeguards.

“By undertaking new cooperation on civil nuclear energy, India will be able to count on a reliable fuel supply for its civilian reactors, meet the energy demands of its people and reduce its independence on fossil fuels,” Mr. Bush said.

“For our part, the U.S. will gain access to a growing market for civilian nuclear technologies and materials that will help American businesses create more jobs for our people here at home,” he said in a speech which was repeatedly applauded by the distinguished gathering of about 200 guests.

Mr. Bush’s signing of the bill into law paves the way for External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to ink the 123 Agreement with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday evening (1.30 a.m. Saturday in India).

They could not sign the agreement in New Delhi last week as India waited for Mr. Bush to clear the law and for his assurances on commitments made earlier in the light of the Congressional law that has provisions under which the U.S. could terminate nuclear cooperation with India in case it conducted a nuclear test.

Describing Mr. Bush’s signing of the legislation into law a “new beginning” in bilateral ties, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Ronen Sen said New Delhi’s concerns over certain provisions of the bill had been addressed.

“Absolutely,” remarked Mr. Sen when asked by reporters if the President’s address at the signing of the legislation met all of India’s concerns. — PTI

Source: The Hindu

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