A day after the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) agreed to a waiver for India ending its 34-year nuclear isolation, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Kolkata on Sunday that it would pave the way for the country to enter into civilian nuclear trade with the international community.
Giving details, Mukherjee said: "International trade in civil nuclear area will have to be executed through bilateral agreement. We have already entered into a treaty with the United States in the form of the 123 India-US bilateral agreement."
However, as per the US constitution, the agreement would have to be ratified by the American congress, he said.
"And they can ratify the agreement only after obtaining the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the NSG waiver in respect of the nuclear trade and the 123 agreement. All three will be considered by the American Congress, and thereafter if they ratify it, the bilateral agreement will be completed with the US," said Mukherjee, who played a key role in the negotiations and was part of the hectic consultations between India and the US.
The US Congress meets on Sep 8 to discuss an approval for the agreement that will bring the landmark nuclear deal to its closure, more than three years after it was first conceptualised.
Mukherjee said the companies that would supply nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel and components and technologies, on behalf of the government of India, would have to enter into a bilateral agreement with the buyer.
The NSG decision came after three days of hard-nosed bargaining behind closed doors after it became clear that India would not settle for anything but a "clean waiver". The NSG guidelines forbid trade with a country like India that is not a signatory to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
It was Mukherjee's statement on Friday afternoon, detailing India's nuclear stand, its commitment to non-proliferation and its re-affirmation to the "voluntary moratorium" on further tests, that had apparently played a key role in convincing the NSG members to give the waiver.
"I have already issued a detailed statement clarifying our stand on nuclear non-proliferation to all 45 countries who are NSG members," he had said on Friday.
Clarifying the statement on Sunday, Mukherjee said: "After the second Pokhran test, it was the then government of Atal Bihari Vajyayee that declared unilateral moratorium on testing. And as the successor government, we have accepted this policy."
"I reiterated (in the statement) our stand on nuclear tests which was articulated by the then government after the second Pokhran test in 1998. And, it (the stand) was also incorporated in a joint statement, issued on July 18, 2005, by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush."