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Bush Administration Submits Indian Nuclear Deal to US Congress

The White House has proposed a change to U.S. law to allow the sale of nuclear technology to India.

In Washington Friday, congressional sources said the legislation would exempt India from the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, which prohibits nuclear sales to nations that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

New Delhi is currently barred under U.S. and international law from acquiring foreign nuclear technology, because it has refused to sign the NPT and has developed and tested nuclear weapons.

Experts say President Bush faces an uphill battle to get the controversial legislation through Congress, where lawmakers have expressed concern it could encourage Iran and North Korea to continue their alleged nuclear weapons programs.

President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clinched the deal in New Delhi during Mr. Bush's trip to South Asia last week. The pact would end a three-decade ban on transferring U.S. nuclear technology to India.

If approved by lawmakers, the agreement must still be authorized by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The 45-nation group oversees nuclear transfers and seeks to ensure they will not be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says Mr. Bush's proposal could open up $100 billion dollars in business ventures for Americans in the Indian energy sector.

The group's senior vice president of international affairs, Dan Christman, said the agreement would also spur economic reforms in energy-starved India. He said it will also open Indian markets to U.S. investment in key areas, including information technology, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.