New York, Sept.28 : After days of hoopla and hectic discussions, the US House of Representatives finally approved the Indo-US civil nuclear deal on Saturday by 298-117 votes.
While there was bipartisan support for the Bill, a considerable number of Democrats voted against the Bill moved by party colleague Howard Berman, an opponent of the measure who was persuaded to change his line.
While 120 Democrats voted for the Bill, 107 Democrats voted against. Of the Republicans, 178 voted for and 10 voted against.
The deal, however, still faces major obstacles in the Senate, even though it enjoys the strong support of senior lawmakers of both parties.
The accord reverses three decades of US policy by shipping atomic fuel to India in return for international inspections of India''''s civilian reactors.
Supporters warn that while Congress argues over the deal, American businesses are losing opportunities as France, Russia and other countries are also eying India''''s multibillion-dollar nuclear market.
Critics say the initiative sends the wrong message to countries like Iran as they pursue atomic programs. India built its bombs outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which provides civil nuclear trade in exchange for a pledge from nations not to pursue nuclear weapons.
India has refused to sign nonproliferation agreements and has faced a nuclear trade ban since its first atomic test in 1974.
The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group of countries that supply nuclear material and technology agreed this month to lift the ban on civilian nuclear trade with India after contentious talks and some concessions to countries fearful it could set a dangerous precedent.
India's envoy to the United States, Ronen Sen, who has played a crucial role in seeing the proposed deal through various stages of negotiation, said: "This agreement will be important and long lasting if, and if, both countries consider it in its national interest."
"I am glad that the deal is passed by the bipartisan support and the agreement is not only good for India, but is also good for the United States," he added.
India's National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, also described the agreement as "being good for India and the world."
Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in his address to the Indian community here, thanked US President George W. Bush and the Indian American community for the role they had played in making this agreement a reality.
As per procedure, after the Congressional approval, the Bill related to deal has to be passed back to the Senate for final clearance, and then the US President will sign it into law.