The House of Representatives International Relations Committee on Tuesday voted 37 to 5 to support the legislation completing the first step towards approval by US Congress.

George Bush, the US president, reached a deal in principle with Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, to work together on civilian nuclear energy last July.

The agreement would give nuclear-armed India access to US nuclear fuel and reactors for the first time in 30 years.

The deal has been criticised in Washington and New Delhi.

Some non-proliferation experts have expressed concern that the deal would allow India to increase nuclear weapons production, but the committee rejected two amendments that would have encouraged India to halt fissile material production.

The Senate foreign Relation Committee will now vote on the legislation on Thursday.