Bush signs the Nuclear Bill

US President George W Bush stuck to all the assurances in the civilian nuclear pact that he made with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he signed the relevant Bill into law at a White House ceremony on Wednesday.In a brief statement on the occasion, Bush, flanked by vice-president Dick Cheney, reiterated the fuel supply assurances and the consent to reprocessing contained in the nuclear deal. "The legislation makes no changes to the terms of the 123 Agreement,” Bush said at a short and elegant East Room ceremony attended by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, prominent lawmakers, the ambassadors of India and the US, and Indian-American community leaders and activists.Bush’s action will pave the way for details of the agreement to be signed by Rice and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee in Washington on Friday. “This agreement sends a signal to the world: nations that follow the path to democracy and responsible behaviour will find a friend in the United States of America,” Bush said before he signed the agreement into law.“Though the United States and India are separated by half the globe, we are natural partners as we head into the 21st century,” Bush added, savouring a major diplomatic victory in the twilight of his term.Bush and Singh had signed the deal in July 2005, touching off a difficult battle with wary lawmakers on either side and critics who warn it undermines global efforts to curb the spread of nuclear knowhow.The agreement offers India access to sophisticated US technology and cheap atomic energy in return for allowing UN inspections of some of its civilian nuclear facilities — but not military nuclear sites. The deal could open up around $27 billion in investment in 18 to 20 nuclear plants in India over the next 15 years, according to CII. US nuclear suppliers will compete with French and Russian companies for some of the $175 billion that the US-India Business Council expects the country to spend on peaceful nuclear energy as it seeks to power economic growth of more than 8% annually. The deal may also create 250,000 US high-tech jobs. Washington had banned on US-Indian civilian nuclear trade after the 1974 Pokhran nuclear test, but US officials had said a new approach is needed to help India meet its booming energy needs at a time of skyrocketing oil prices and global warming fears.

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