After reprocessing deal, nuclear liability law sought

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Hailing the conclusion of a nuclear fuel reprocessing agreement, a major trade group has sought quick resolution of two other key issues to fully implement the India-US civil nuclear deal. The two issues relate to an agreement by the US and Indian governments on non-proliferation assurances to permit US licensing for technical exchanges regarding nuclear power and passage of a nuclear liability law by India.

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“Resolution of two key issues will enable India to assume a key role in the global commercial nuclear supply chain,” said Ted Jones, Director for Policy Advocacy at US-India Business Council (USIBC).

“We hope these issues will get early attention, as US and Indian commercial nuclear firms are eager to partner not just in India, but in the renaissance of commercial nuclear power around the world.”

“Delays in these ‘Part 810 assurances,’ as they are known, are currently preventing work by Indian suppliers in the US as well as collaboration in India,” it said.

A nuclear liability law will not just establish an effective and assured means for adequate compensation in the extremely unlikely event of an accident, USIBC said.

“It will also enable responsible national and international suppliers to develop the safest nuclear power Programme in India.”

Describing the agreement to grant India advance consent to reprocess spent fuel of US origin and fuel burned in US reactors as a “significant step forward for US-India commercial nuclear cooperation,” USIBC noted it is just the third such pact ever undertaken by the US with another country.

The US had previously granted similar rights only to the European consortium EURATOM and Japan, but not to China, Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, nor to sixteen other countries with 123 Agreements.

“The agreement to make India the third reprocessing partner of the US reflects the special trust and respect that exists between strategic partners,” said USIBC President Ron Somers.

“Today’s announcement attests to continuity and bipartisanship in both countries, and encourages us that US-India civil nuclear trade is near at hand,” he said.

US commercial nuclear companies have much to offer India as it undertakes an ambitious plan to add 60,000 MW in commercial generating capacity by 2030, USIBC said. The US commercial nuclear industry leads the world in size, performance, innovation and engineering.

The US is by a wide margin the largest generator of nuclear electric power in the world with 27 percent of the world’s total installed capacity and nearly double the number of reactors as France, it said. The US also produces at roughly half to one third of the cost in other major countries, it said. In recent decades, US reactor companies and civil nuclear engineering companies have remained at the forefront of innovation and engineering worldwide.