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UPDATED: 19:59, March 02, 2006
India, US seal civil nuclear deal
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India and the United States finalized the separation plan of India's civilian and military nuclear facilities Thursday, a major move for overall civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides have made mutual and satisfactory understanding on implementation of civil nuclear cooperation agreement reached in July last year, said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after holding a two-hour talk with visiting U.S. President George W. Bush here Thursday.

India's civil nuclear separation plan has been successfully completed and now it is up to the U.S. Congress to amend the domestic laws, Singh said, adding that India will move the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have a special safeguard agreement.

In response, Bush said, "I am looking forward to working with our United States Congress to change decades of law that will enable us to move forward in this important initiative."

The U.S. Congress has get to know that the United States has economic interest in letting India to have access to civil nuclear energy, he said.

It will help cope with the increasing global demand for energy as nuclear energy is renewable and clean and to reduce the global demand is to help U.S. consumers, he added.

The Indo-U.S. agreement on overall cooperation of civil nuclear energy was reached during Singh's visit to Washington in July last year, which has roused concerns about setting up a "bad" example for other countries since India has refused to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty after conducting nuclear tests in 1998.

India has agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear program and put the civilian facilities under IEAE surveillance while the United States would supply nuclear technology and fuel, which required amendment of U.S. domestic laws.

The U.S. government made it a condition to start law amendment process that India put forward a satisfactory separation plan of its civilian and military nuclear facilities.

The two had bargained hard over which facilities in India, such as fast breeder reactor program, should be put in civilian list and under international safeguard.

Singh had told the Parliament on Monday that India will not follow the U.S. request to put fast breeder reactor program in civilian facilities list.

How the two sides compromised on this issue is not known yet since the Indian government has not released the details of the final separation plan.

But local TV channel NDTV quoted anonymous sources as saying that eight of India's 22 reactors are in military list and the rest are in the civilian one while the fast breeder reactor is likely to be out of international safeguards.

Source: Xinhua

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