US leader George W. Bush has signed into law an historic nuclear deal with India. Reversing 30 years of American policy, it is a major step towards allowing New Delhi to buy US civilian nuclear fuel and technology. The president says it will cement closer ties.
“The United States and India are working together to expand economic opportunities in both our countries,” Bush told reporters.
“India’s economy has more than doubled in size since 1991 and it is one of the fastest growing markets for American exports.”
At loggerheads over Kashmir, both India and its rival Pakistan have tested nuclear weapons.
As part of the deal, which still needs to pass further hurdles, New Delhi will allow international inspections at civilian nuclear plants. Military facilities however will stay off-limits.
Some fear selling India fuel for civilian energy use will free up the country’s indigenous uranium stocks for arms production. Experts say India has already produced about 50 nuclear weapons and plans to reach up to 400 in a decade.