India nuclear deal debate begins

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Debate is under way in the Senate on a nuclear cooperation deal between the United States and India.

The agreement would take away the last hurdle in the way of civilian nuclear trade with India, following a three-decade atomic ban.

The deal is a top priority of President Bush, and is supported by senior lawmakers in both parties.

It would let U.S. businesses start selling nuclear fuel, technology and reactors to India. In exchange, there would be safeguards and U.N. inspections at India's civilian nuclear plants -- but not the military ones.

Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut says there are "compelling" reasons to pass the deal -- pointing to India's proximity to Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar says the accord will protect U.S. national security while building a "strategic partnership" with a country that shares U.S. values and will have "increasing influence."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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