Posted online: Friday, May 26, 2006 at 1657 hours IST
TOKYO, MAY 26: Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee urged the US Congress on Friday to approve a US-India accord on nuclear energy cooperation so New Delhi can achieve rapid economic growth.
The nuclear deal struck last July to permit US civil nuclear technology sales to India for the first time in three decades has run into trouble in Washington and New Delhi, as critics on both sides complain their side got too little and the other side got too much.
"I do hope this arrangement will get the ratification of the US Congress, and after that the Nuclear Suppliers Group will recognise and help India to have access to technology, materials and equipment to pursue our peaceful civilian nuclear programme," Mukherjee told reporters in Tokyo.
For the deal to take effect, Congress must change US law and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group must alter its rules.
"We require energy to ensure our rapid development," Mukherjee, in Tokyo on a three-day visit, said.
India has been barred from obtaining foreign nuclear technology because it developed and tested nuclear weapons and did not sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The US administration, which considers the accord key to improved ties with the rising Asian power, has met resistance after pushing Congress to change quickly the Atomic Energy Act.
India never signed the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, developing weapons in contravention of international norms.
"Though India is not a signatory to NPT, we have accepted all of the obligations, most of the obligations, under the treaty voluntarily," Mukherjee said.
India also has not had meaningful negotiations with the UN watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, on another key piece of the deal, a system to monitor Indian civil nuclear facilities, experts say.
"We require minimum credible deterrent," Mukherjee said. "We want to achieve minimum credible deterrent to meet our requirement."