Hurrah! The US Senate has approved the Indo-US nuclear deal, which now only has to be signed by its architect, President George Bush. All three senators in the presidential race — Republican John McCain, Democrat Barack Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden — voted for the deal.
It only goes to show America does not forget its friends that the agreement was passed just before the Senate took up the much more pressing issue of the US economy and voted for a revised $700 billion bailout plan.
The Indo-US agreement was supported by 86 of the 100 US senators. All the 13 senators who voted against the agreement are Democrats, including Tom Harkin, from Iowa. He was rumoured to have been vetted by Omaha, who eventually picked Biden as his running mate. Senator Edward Kennedy, undergoing treatment for cancer, did not vote.
The New York Times has the full roll call showing how each senator voted.
Why deal important
Though Indian nationalists and communists opposed the agreement saying it was a sellout to the US, India should be happy that President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh succeeded in reaching the agreement. The BBC explains its significance:
The 86-13 vote was the last legislative hurdle in a process that began when an agreement was reached in 2005.
The deal will give India access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel in return for inspections of its civilian, but not military, nuclear facilities.
India says the accord is vital to meet its rising energy needs. Critics say it creates a dangerous precedent.
They say it effectively allows India to expand its nuclear power industry without requiring it to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as other nations must.
The US restricted nuclear co-operation with India after it tested a nuclear weapon in 1974.
Good for India and America
America gains as well. “The national security and economic future of the United States will be enhanced by a strong and enduring partnership with India,” said Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, reports the New York Times.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
For U.S. companies, the deal will open a multibillion-dollar market for the sale of everything from power-transmission equipment to airplanes.
Suppliers of technology and equipment, including General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of Toshiba Corp., hope to benefit from India's nuclear-power plans.
General Electric built nuclear power plants in India in the 1960s and is interested in building new reactors there, as well as providing fuel and other services for new and existing reactors. General Electric said it has had "limited" discussions with Indian officials about the country's energy plans.
Westinghouse Electric, based outside Pittsburgh, plans to build up to eight reactors in India for $5 billion to $7 billion each. It stepped up meetings with government and industry officials in India this year in anticipation of an agreement.
Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. have bid to sell 126 fighter jets to the Indian government, in a deal valued at $8 billion to $10 billion.
The Wall Street Journal also notes:
India's power-generation capacity is lagging far behind the country's
expanding energy needs. The economy has grown an average of 8.7% each
year over the past five years. That trend, combined with rising
incomes, has lifted electricity demand by 9% a year.
Other countries have expressed interest in getting into the Indian
market, and France concluded its own civilian-nuclear deal with India