7 Sep 2008

US-India nuclear accord approved

9:33 pm on 7 September 2008

The group of nations which regulates the global nuclear trade has approved a US proposal to lift restrictions on selling nuclear technology to India.

The controversial deal now needs to be ratified by the US Congress before it can be implemented.

India says the deal is vital for it to meet its civil energy demands.

The approval came after India pledged to keep its nuclear non-proliferation commitments and to uphold a voluntary moratorium on testing atomic weapons.

It took the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group nearly three days of negotiations in Vienna to reach agreement.

Critics of the deal say it creates a dangerous precedent - effectively allowing India to expand its nuclear power industry without requiring it to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty as other nations must.

But US and Indian officials hailed the agreement as one that would help limit the unregulated spread of nuclear technology and material while allowing India to meet its energy demands with a "clean and reliable" supply.

Austria, New Zealand and Ireland lifted their objection to the US proposal after India made a formal pledge to not share sensitive nuclear technology or material and to uphold its moratorium on testing nuclear weapons.