US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that a proposed US-India nuclear energy deal is good for both countries and for global efforts to reduce the spread of atomic technology and greenhouse gas emissions.
In her first public comments on the agreement since India's government won a confidence vote that paves its way forward, Rice said the administration of President George W Bush would press US lawmakers to approve the agreement in the coming months.
"I think we can make a very good case that this is not just a landmark deal but a positive landmark deal," she told reporters aboard her plane as she flew from an Asian security conference in Singapore to Australia.
"It's certainly our hope that we can get through all the processes and get this done in the Congress, and we are going to work very expeditiously toward that goal," Rice said.
The pact would end more than three decades of nuclear isolation for India by opening its civilian reactors to international inspections in exchange for the nuclear fuel and technology. Previously, India has been denied such outside help because of its refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its testing of atomic weapons.
But Rice said India has a good record of not spreading its nuclear technology and that safeguards are built into the deal. She added that its approval would help India meet its huge demand for energy without using oil, coal and other petroleum products.
"India is a country that has tremendously growing demand for energy," she said. "It is a country that, if it tries to meet that demand through carbon-based sources for energy, is going to contribute dramatically to the continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions.