Bush hails India's proliferation record
Dispelling fears that the Indo-US civil nuclear deal will violate the US policy on non-proliferation, US President W George Bush has hailed India's impeccable record on proliferation.
"They (India) have had 30 years of not proliferating their nuclear know-how," the President said.
"Unlike Iran, for example, India is willing to join the IAEA. They want to be a part of the global agreements around nuclear power," he said, while replying to questions after his address at the City Club of Cleveland, in Ohio State.
Lavishing praise on the Indian democracy, Bush said, "India is a democracy and a transparent society. You find out a lot about India because there's a free press. There is openness. People run for office and are held to account...It's an open process."
The landmark deal, which is pending a clearance from the US Congress, has been advocated by various Bush administration officials on the grounds the deal will bring India, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), into non-proliferation mainstream.
Urging the Congress to endorse the deal, Mr Bush said the agreement would go a long way in establishing an "important relationship" between the two countries.
"I feel very comfortable recommending to the United States Congress that they ought to agree with the agreement that Prime Minister Singh and I have reached. It's very important for an important relationship," he said.
While referring to the Cold War era tensions between the two nations, Mr Bush said, "For too long, America and India were not partners in peace. We didn't deal with each other because of the Cold War. And now is the time to set the Cold War behind us. It's over."
He asserted that the nuclear accord was necessary to strengthen global security and non-proliferation goals of the US.
Affirming that the agreement is a "controversial decision" on his part, the President said he took the step despite the fact that "the controversial decision basically flies in the face of old Cold war attitudes, as well as arms control thinking."
Explaining the logic behind his decision, Mr Bush said, "We live in a global economy, there is a demand for fossil fuels and India should be able to develop clean fuel for its energy and so in our interests, our economic interests we worked on an agreement with India to encourage their expansion of civilian nuclear power."
"I agreed with the Indian government that India ought to be encouraged to develop a nuclear power industry," he said.
Bush appreciated the recent bonhomie in the relations between India and Pakistan and appreciated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for keeping up the momentum on the peace talks.
Visualising what the India-US deal would mean after the next 30 years, Mr Bush said, "My hope is some day somebody will be asking a question, aren't you glad old George W thought about entering into a strategic relationship with India?"