The U.S. Congress on October 1, 2008, gave final approval to an agreement facilitating nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. The deal is seen as a watershed in U.S.-India relations and introduces a new aspect to international nonproliferation efforts. First introduced in the joint statement released by President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 18, 2005, the deal lifts a three-decade U.S. moratorium on nuclear trade with India. It provides U.S. assistance to India's civilian nuclear energy program, and expands U.S.-India cooperation in energy and satellite technology. But critics in the United States say the deal fundamentally reverses half a century of U.S. nonproliferation efforts, undermines attempts to prevent states like Iran and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, and potentially contributes to a nuclear arms race in Asia. "It's an unprecedented deal for India," says Charles D. Ferguson, science and technology fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "If you look at the three countries outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)-Israel, India, and Pakistan-this stands to be a unique deal."
What are the terms of the deal?
The details of the deal include the following:
- India agrees to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog group, access to its civilian nuclear program. By March 2006, India promised to place fourteen of its twenty-two power reactors under IAEA safeguards permanently. Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says these will include domestically built plants, which India has not been willing to safeguard before now. India has promised that all future civilian thermal and breeder reactors shall be placed under IAEA safeguards permanently....