Nuclear deal to bring new status: PM

Nuclear deal to bring new status: PM

New Delhi: India is close to securing a new position in the world nuclear order, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said as the US House of Representatives passed a major atomic energy pact with New Delhi.

The House passed the agreement by a 298-117 vote on Saturday, taking the pact a step closer to being sealed.

The agreement, signed by Singh and US President George Bush in 2005, offers India access to Western technology and cheap atomic energy provided New Delhi allows UN inspections of some of its nuclear facilities.

“We are on the verge of securing a new status in the global nuclear order," Singh told a gathering on Saturday evening in New York, where he attended the UN General Assembly.

“India will be liberated from the constraints of technology denial of 34 years," Singh’s office quoted him as saying in a statement.

The pact, which reverses a ban on civilian nuclear trade with India, will now head to the US Senate for approval.

But the deal has faced opposition from critics who argue that India, which first tested an atomic weapon in 1974, is not a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Singh said the accord would benefit not just India and the US.

“The civilian nuclear cooperation is in the interest of India, in the interest of the US and in the interest of the world at large," the premier said.

Washington spearheaded efforts that resulted this month in the Vienna-based Nuclear Suppliers Group lifting a global ban on trade with India.

Before returning home, Singh was due to visit France where a separate nuclear cooperation accord was likely to be completed.