Bush Approves India Nuclear Power Deal

After squeezing concessions from two international nonproliferation governing bodies, President Bush is now setting his sights on Congress to approve a deal to cooperate on civilian nuclear trade with India before the end of his term.

The president approved the “U.S.-India Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement today, adding: “The president looks forward to working with Congress to ensure passage on the agreement this year.”

Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have been pursuing the nuclear power agreement for years, but India sought exemptions from nuclear nonproliferation rules that apply to other nations. This summer, the two key groups setting international standards nonproliferation – the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group – granted the waivers, allowing the deal to progress.

The White House notified Congress about the approval of what is called the “123 Agreement” Wednesday night and “transmitted some information” to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said its spokeswoman, Lynne Weil. And the committee’s chairman, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), is studying the material.

Better read fast.

Singh is scheduled to visit the White House on Sept. 25, to discuss strengthening “the strategic partnership and build upon our progress in other areas of cooperation, such as agriculture, education, trade and defense,” Perino said.