US sign nuclear cooperation (landmark 123) agreement landmark
Washington, Oct. 11, 2008
India and the US have operationalised the "path-breaking"
bilateral nuclear deal as they signed the 123 Agreement in Washington,
with New Delhi insisting that the accord is "legally-binding"
on both sides.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice put the final seal on the agreement
at an impressive ceremony held in the Benjamin Franklin Room of
the State Department, culminating a crisis-ridden process initiated
on 18th July 2005 in Washington during Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh's visit for talks with US President George W. Bush.
"Both India and the US Administration have now completed
all our internal procedures to be able to sign this path breaking
agreement," Mukherjee said after signing the agreement, paving
the way for entry of American companies into the Indian nuclear
market after three decades.
"Today is an important day for India-US relations, for
global energy security and for our common endeavour to promote
sustainable development while addressing environmental challenges,"
he said at the ceremony held at the State Department.
Noting that the agreement reflects a "careful balance of
rights and obligations", he said "its (agreement's)
provisions are now legally-binding on both sides once the agreement
enters into force."
This comment assumes significance since the US had said that
the contents of the 123 Agreement were a political commitment
and not legally binding, triggering concerns in India over aspects
like promises on nuclear fuel assurances.
He said the importance of the Agreement is that it was the first
step to civil nuclear cooperation and trade between India and
"It is also the first step to India's cooperation with
the rest of the world in civil nuclear energy," he said.
He said the signing of the agreement has brought to fruition
three years of "extraordinary effort" by both India
and the US and it was "one more visible sign of the transformed
relationship and partnership" that the two countries are
"We now look forward to working with US companies on the
commercial steps that will follow to implement this landmark agreement,"
The External Affairs Minister described the agreement as the
first step to India's cooperation with the rest of the world in
civil nuclear field.
By reinforcing and increasing the nuclear element in the country's
energy mix, which is vital to sustain India's growth rate, nuclear
power will directly boost industrial growth, rural development
and help expand every vital sector of the country's economy, he
"It enables India to respond with her global partners to
the challenges of climate change and global warming by strengthening
her own economic growth and sustainable development," he
Mukherjee said the wide-ranging initiatives announced by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush in July 2005
and March 2006 have led to a transformed relationship between
the two countries.
Praising Bush, Rice and the American Congress besides the Indian-American
community for making the agreement a reality, the External Affairs
Minister said New Delhi looks forward to working with Washington
in other fields as well.
He listed these as combating terrorism, containing and fighting
pandemics, climate change, ensuring food security, cooperating
in disaster relief operations and other regional and global initiatives.