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Remarks by External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee at the signing Ceremony of the 123 Agreement between India and US in the US State Department

Washington, DC 
October 10, 2008

Your Excellency, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State of the United States of America, 
Honourable Members of the US Congress, Distinguished Secretaries of the US Administration, and, Friends of India who have joined us today. 

I thank the Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice for her gracious remarks. 

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. In signing the Agreement between India and the United States of America for cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy we have brought to fruition three years of extraordinary effort by both our Governments. The agreement is one more visible sign of the transformed relationship and partnership that our two countries are building together. In doing so, we implement the vision and understandings reached in July 2005 and March 2006 by President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Both India and the US have now completed all our internal procedures to be able to sign this path breaking agreement. We have particularly noted, and welcome the strong bipartisan support with which the US Congress endorsed the Agreement. We see this bipartisan support as a vote for stronger India-US co-operation to the mutual benefit of our peoples. The signing of this agreement has also been preceded by the unanimous approval by the IAEA Board of Governors of the related safeguards arrangements, and by the consensus decision of the forty-five member Nuclear Supply Group to enable cooperation by its members in peaceful uses of nuclear energy with India.

The significance of this Agreement is that it is the first step to civil nuclear co-operation and trade between India and the USA. This is an agreement about civil nuclear co-operation and reflects a careful balance of rights and obligations. The Agreement has been passed by the US Congress without any amendments. Its provisions are now legally binding on both sides once the Agreement enters into force. We look forward to working with US companies on the commercial steps that will follow to implement this landmark Agreement. 

It is also the first step to India’s cooperation with the rest of the world in civil nuclear energy. By reinforcing and increasing the nuclear element in our country’s energy mix, which is vital to sustain our growth rate, nuclear power will directly boost industrial growth, rural development and help us to expand every vital sector of our economy. It also 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. 

The wide ranging initiatives announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the US President in July 2005 and March 2006 have led to a transformed relationship between our two countries. Our engagement and productive bilateral dialogues include clean and efficient energy, high technology, defence, space, education, agriculture, science & technology, civil aviation, infrastructure development, and information technology, to name just a few. These will, I am sure, gain momentum with the signing of this Agreement. We look forward to working with the US in promoting non-proliferation, containing and fighting pandemics, climate change, ensuring food security, cooperating in disaster relief operations and other regional and global initiatives.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to each and every person who has made this day a reality: 

• to the President of the United States of America who, steadfastly believed in this outcome and made it happen; 

• to his Secretary of State Madame Condoleezza Rice, who has spared no effort in working with my Government on challenging detail and who was instrumental in the positive outcome of the negotiations and the finalization of the text of the agreement; and, 

• to the US Congress who gave this agreement with India their bi-partisan support. 

• The enthusiasm and support of the Indian American community sustained us through this process, and theirs was an invaluable contribution.

Thank you.