The U.S. Congress has overwhelmingly approved, and President George Bush signed into law, the U.S.-India Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. The agreement overturns a 3-decade ban on nuclear energy cooperation with India, allowing American businesses to sell nuclear fuel and technology to India’s civilian nuclear power plants.
Trade of nuclear fuel technology will be governed by International Atomic Energy Safeguards, which will be applied to more than 65 percent of India's nuclear power reactors by 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the agreement “reflects the transformation of our relations and a recognition of India’s emergence on the global stage.”
The agreement will promote America’s growing partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy and a rising economic power. In turn, the nuclear accord will help India’s population of more than one billion to meet its rapidly increasing energy needs in an environmentally responsible way. India currently imports about seventy-five percent of its oil, and nuclear power only provides a fraction of India's energy needs. Even a modest increase in India's nuclear capacity could help reduce emissions due to burning fossil fuels.
Currently, India’s civilian nuclear reactors operate below capacity because of a shortage of uranium. With the new agreement, India can access the international market for nuclear fuel, equipment, and technology, so that it can build more reactors and operate existing ones more effectively to meet its growing demand for energy. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has argued that nuclear cooperation with the United States will help bring about the economic growth necessary to lift its citizens out of poverty.
Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India now looks to the United States as its largest trading partner and largest source of investment. “Whether it is energy, anti-terrorist steps, trade or high technology,” said Mr. Mukherjee, “India’s quest to build a knowledge society leads us to work very closely with the [United States].”
Secretary of State Rice stressed that the U.S.-India nuclear agreement will also support global nonproliferation efforts. The agreement, she said, “reflects a common commitment to share both the benefits of the international system and also the burdens and responsibilities of maintaining, strengthening, and defending it.” The United States looks forward to a new strategic partnership with India that will provide global leadership in the years ahead.