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Indian Officials Hail US Nuclear Accord

India's Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar.
by Pratap Chakravarty
New Delhi (AFP) July 28, 2007
India's top nuclear scientist on Saturday hailed a nuclear pact with the United States as "a very good deal" that should satisfy both countries. The long-delayed accord announced on Friday in Washington allows US exports of civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India for the first time in 30 years -- a move intended to reverse sanctions imposed on the Asian giant for its nuclear tests.

It also allows India to reprocess spent fuel under safeguards imposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, going one step further than a law passed by the US Congress in December.

"We have got a very good deal which should meet requirements of both the countries," said India's Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar, previously one of the toughest critics of the nuclear accord.

"You give some and you get some and we are satisfied with this," Kakodkar said.

The nuclear energy deal is the centrepiece of India's new relationship with Washington after decades of Cold War tensions and is part of New Delhi's efforts to expand energy sources to sustain its booming economy.

Leaders of India's ruling Congress party were slated to meet late on Saturday to discuss the pact, which must be passed by parliament and the US Congress before it can be implemented.

The text of the agreement, which has been struck even though India has refused to sign non-proliferation treaties, has not yet been made public.

Some key US legislators, however, were sceptical about the pact, amid concern the terms would weaken Washington's non-proliferation goals.

Responding to domestic fears expressed earlier that the agreement could cap India's military capabilities, Kakodkar said that the country's nuclear programme would be unaffected by the deal.

Indian national security advisor M.K. Narayanan also praised the agreement, which took two years to complete, calling it "as good a text as one can possibly get."

The right to reprocess spent US-sourced nuclear fuel has been given only to Japan and the European Union so far, and US lawmakers have expressed doubt about safeguards needed to deter India from possibly diverting any nuclear material to its military weapons program.

But Narayanan said the deal was not an opportunity for India to increase its nuclear arsenal.

"I think it's time certain countries overcame the belief that we are interested in proliferation," Narayanan said.

Under the accord, India is to separate nuclear facilities for civilian and military use and set up a regime of international inspections in return for technology and nuclear fuel supplies.

Strategic expert Kapil Kak called the agreement a "lucky break" for India and said it was a result of tough negotiations that began a little after the two countries in March 2005 agreed on civilian nuclear cooperation.

"India negotiated hard with a well-calibrated diplomatic approach to global sensitivities which resulted in this lucky break," said Kak, director of the Centre for Strategic Studies think-tank.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US And India Adopt Historic Nuclear Agreement
Washington (AFP) Jul 27, 2007
The United States and India announced Friday that they have adopted an operating agreement for a landmark nuclear deal but the pact still has to be cleared by a skeptical US Congress. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Indian counterpart Shri Pranab Mukherjee in a joint statement hailed the civilian nuclear agreement as a "historic milestone" in relations. President George W. Bush said he looked forward to working with the Democratic-controlled Congress to implement the deal, saying it marked "another step" in deepening ties with India, which he called "a vital world leader."

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