ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
The U.S. and India say they've worked out their differences on a nuclear cooperation deal, a deal first announced in 2005, and one, the Bush administration says is historic. A top State Department official says he's hoping Congress will agree soon, though a debate could be rough.
NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHELE KELEMEN: Without providing many technical details, Washington and New Delhi released a joint statement today saying they've completed negotiations on a deal that would open the doors for U.S. and Indians firms to participate in each other's civilian nuclear energy sector. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says negotiators worked for two years and two days to reach this point and he believes the deal complies with U.S. law.
Mr. NICHOLAS BURNS (Undersecretary of State, Public Affairs): We believe this great, historic, civil nuclear agreement will become part of a new strategic partnership between our countries. We are ready to build that relationship with India.
KELEMEN: There are many critics on Capitol Hill and among nonproliferation experts. Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control says the deal sends the wrong message to Iran.
Mr. GARY MILHOLLIN (Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control): We've tried to stop India from getting the bomb. We failed. India has the bomb. India is still building its missile program and yet we are ready to treat India as a normal trading partner - we, the United States - basically, because we want to make money.
KELEMEN: India never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Bush administration argues that this deal will bring India into the fold, putting India's civilian nuclear facilities under inspection for the first time. Burns says Iran, on the other hand, is an outlaw state that should get a different message from the India deal.
Mr. BURNS: It sends a message that if you behave responsibly in regards to nonproliferation and you play by the rules, you will not be penalized, but will be invited to participate more fully in international nuclear trade.
KELEMEN: Undersecretary Burns said the U.S. would ask for all of its fuel and technology back if India conducts any future nuclear weapons test. India still needs to reach agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency and with the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Congress also needs to okay the final arrangements. Burns is hoping that can happen in the next several months.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
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