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Bush signs nuclear deal with India

  • Story Highlights
  • Bush: U.S. is a friend of "nations that follow the path of democracy"
  • Nuclear trade with India was banned when it tested an atomic bomb in 1974
  • Rice calls deal "a historic agreement" that puts the two nations on a "firm footing"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush signed into law the lifting of a ban on nuclear trade with India.

"This agreement sends a signal to the world: Nations that follow the path of democracy and responsible behavior will find a friend in the United States of America," Bush said at the signing ceremony for the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

Trade of nuclear supplies with India, the world's largest democracy, was banned when the South Asian country tested an atomic bomb 34 years ago.

The Senate voted last week to overturn the ban. The House of Representatives later passed the bill without debate.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called the deal "a historic agreement" that put the United States and India on a "firm footing." Video Watch what the deal entails »

"What the civil nuclear deal does is that it removes, for India, a barrier to full integration on a whole range of technologies," she said.

"But more importantly, I think it is symbolic of a relationship with India that's now at a very, very different level. And at that different level, one would expect that economic relations, defense relations, a whole range of relationships, including business relationships, will flourish."

The agreement means American businesses can sell nuclear fuel, technology and reactors to India. In return, India will allow international inspections of its civilian -- but not military -- nuclear power plants. It also promised not to resume testing of nuclear weapons.

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The United States banned nuclear trade with India after it exploded a nuclear device in 1974 and refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Critics contend that the agreement Bush signed would hurt international efforts to keep nuclear weapons from spreading.

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