Five years after India and the US signed a landmark civil nuclear deal, the two countries have clinched the first commercial agreement on civilian nuclear power cooperation that was stalled over India’s nuclear liability law.
President Barack Obama announced the agreement yesterday after his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House Oval Office.
“We’ve made enormous progress on the issue of civilian nuclear power, and in fact, have been able to achieve just in the last few days an agreement on the first commercial agreement between a US company and India on civilian nuclear power,” Obama said.
Later in a joint statement, the two leaders noted that with government—to—government procedures agreed, commercial negotiations between India’s nuclear operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and US firm Westinghouse are proceeding now.
A fact sheet issued by the White House said this agreement should facilitate progress toward licensing the AP—1000 nuclear reactor technology in India.
Noting that the Indian government is planning to develop commercial nuclear power sites in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh using US nuclear technology, it said both governments also decided to complete discussions on the Administrative Arrangements at an early date.
The two leaders urged NPCIL and US companies Westinghouse and General Electric—Hitachi to expedite the necessary work to establish nuclear power plants in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
“Both sides reaffirm their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the India—US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement,” the joint statement said.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) intend to sign a memorandum of understanding for the exchange of technical information in nuclear safety matters, the fact sheet said.
This arrangement should solidify close cooperation between the regulators, it noted.