Hurdles cleared, Pranab off to US to sign 123 pact | india | Hindustan Times
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Hurdles cleared, Pranab off to US to sign 123 pact

With the US enabling law on the N-deal in place, Mukherjee and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will ink the bilateral 123 agreement at 4 pm on Friday, reports V Krishna.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2008 01:07 IST
V Krishna

With US President George W. Bush reiterating commitments on nuclear fuel supply and reprocessing rights while signing an enabling legislation into law, the formalities regarding the 123 agreement for US-India civilian nuclear cooperation will be completed early Saturday morning.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will sign the agreement at a ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the US State Department.

Mukherjee left New Delhi for Washington late on Thursday.

In the early hours of Thursday morning (Wednesday night here), the spotlight was on Bush, and he delivered what his “dear friend” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government had been hoping for.

Bush highlighted the legislation did not “change the fuel assurance commitments that the United States government has made to the government of India, as recorded in the 123 agreement”. Continued from Page 1

"Today, I have the honour of signing the legislation that builds on the growing ties between the world's two largest democracies, India and the United States," Bush said.

After thanking the Indian-Americans who lobbied for the agreement, Congressional leaders, Rice and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and recognising Vice-President Dick Cheney and Ambassadors Ronen Sen and David Mulford, Bush spoke about common values and goals.

On the bill itself, he said it "makes clear that our agreement with India is consistent with the Atomic Energy Act and other elements of US law."

Then came the other key lines, from the Indian government's perspective: "The legislation makes no changes to the terms of the 123 agreement I submitted to Congress. It enables me to bring that agreement into force and to accept on behalf of the US all the obligations that are part of the agreement.

"The agreement also grants India 'advance consent to reprocessing' — which will be brought into effect upon the conclusion of arrangements and procedures for a dedicated reprocessing facility under IAEA safeguards."

The packed East Room of the White House broke into applause. And soon after, he signed the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act.