Bush signs historic n-deal law, assures fuel supply (Third Lead)

October 9th, 2008 - 3:37 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Oct 9 (IANS) US President George W. Bush has signed the enabling law on the India-US civil nuclear deal with an assurance that the US would honour its commitment on nuclear fuel supply assurances and processing of spent fuel.”India can count on reliable fuel supplies (from US) for its reactors,” said Bush as he signed the historic law, assuring the legislation makes no changes in the implementing 123 Agreement and it does not affect fuel exchange and reprocessing.

“This is a big deal,” said the president before signing the law - H.R. 7081, the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act — at 2:34 p.m. Wednesday (00:04 a.m. Thursday India time) in the East Room of the White House.

“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,” he said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Indian Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen and US Ambassador to India, David Mulford were among a select gathering witnessing the signing ceremony.

Also attending were prominent members of the Indian-American community, captains of industry, lawmakers, diplomats and officials, who played a major role in getting the deal through the Congress in less than a month after the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) gave India a waiver on nuclear trade.

India and the US are halfway across the globe, but they are natural partners, he said thanking the Indian-American community for pushing the deal and the Congressional leadership for getting the bill passed at the very end of session before breaking for the Nov 4 elections.

With the enabling law in place, Rice and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee are expected to formally ink the 123 Agreement here Friday to give effect to the landmark accord, envisioned by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 18, 2005.

“On Friday at 4 o’clock (01:30 a.m. Saturday India time) the secretary will sign with the Indian Foreign Minister Mukherjee, the India Civil Nuclear Agreement,” US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack announced hours before Bush signed the bill.

“This follows on the president’s signature today of implementing legislation in the United States,” he added.

“The president looks forward to signing this bill into law and continuing to strengthen the US-India Strategic Partnership,” said a White House official before the signing ceremony.

“This legislation will strengthen our global nuclear non-proliferation efforts, protect the environment, create jobs, and assist India in meeting its growing energy needs in a responsible manner,” he said.

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