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N-deal made easier for India

india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 01:42 IST
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At Delhi’s insistence, Washington agrees to drop no-detonation clause

INDIA AND the United States have reached a breakthrough in talks over the landmark nuclear deal, and the agreement being prepared will not bar New Delhi from detonating nuclear devices, a senior official has told the Hindustan Times.

The progress on the bilateral pact — also called the "123 agreement" — was reported ahead of the US Senate's expected vote next week on a crucial bill that seeks to reverse US law to allow Washington to make that deal with India.

The process of seeking legislative approval for the deal — a top priority for US President George W. Bush — is running alongside the hard-nosed quibbling between India and the US over the actual terms of the agreement.

The US House of Representatives — the other House of the US Congress, or parliament — overwhelmingly approved the bill in July to let Washington supply nuclear fuel to India to meet the soaring energy demands of its booming economy. In return, India has promised a separation of its nuclear and civilian facilities.

A senior Indian official with close knowledge of the "123" negotiations told HT that US officials had accepted India's view that New Delhi had already imposed on itself a moratorium on future nuclear testing -- and would not accept the condition in a bilateral agreement.

This has for months been one of the major sticking points in the discussions.
"We had said that it would be difficult for us to accept. They have said that they understand the concerns we have," the official said.

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