Washington: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohammed El Baradei has said the U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement that allows India access to sensitive technology in exchange for bringing its nuclear reactors under IAEA safeguards is a creative break with the past that, if handled properly, will be a step forward for both India and the international community.

Writing in the Washington Post, Mr. El Baradei said India will get technology to help lift more than 500 million people from poverty, and will be part of the effort to combat nuclear terrorism and "rid our world of nuclear weapons''.

He said, ``Strong support of India and the U.S. - as well as all other nuclear weapons states - is sorely needed to make this treaty a reality.'' India, he said, agreed to follow the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an organisation of States that regulates access to nuclear material and technology. It has also agreed to bring its civilian nuclear facilities under international safeguards.

Addressing critics who have raised questions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty being watered down, the Nobel Laureate clarified there is no such thing as a ``legitimate'' or ``illegitimate'' nuclear weapons state.