ibnlive » India

Oct 11, 2008 at 07:03pm IST

Rice calls nuclear deal 'unprecedented'

Washington: The United States and India Nuclear Cooperation and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act was signed into law by US President George W Bush on Wednesday. And after two days, the bilateral agreement was also signed.

The historic Benjamin Franklin Room at the US State Department was the venue for the signing ceremony of the bilateral agreement governing the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

At the table were US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Rice couldn't help referencing the troubles that had beset the deal before she finally signed it.

"Many thought this day would never come,” Rice says. She also added that the deal was "unprecedented".

There may still be concern that the US Congress has been given assurances by the Bush Administration on stopping fuel supplies if India were to detonate a nuclear device. But External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee stressed the 123 Agreement was paramount.

“123 Agreement provides the fuel supply assurance to India and it has been retaliated by the President's signing step,” says Pranab.

India has had discussions with France and Russia over nuclear trade and is making no commitment that US companies will be at an advantage when it comes to contracts.

"They have not used the word preferential treatment but have used commercial transactions," adds the External Affairs Minister.

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