After NSG waiver, USIBC vows to work for Congress nod

September 7th, 2008 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 6 (IANS) The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has vowed to work for the ratification of the civil nuclear deal by Congress to “clear the way for US companies to participate in India’s nuclear renaissance”.Applauding the waiver given to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for nuclear trade, USIBC, the premier business advocacy organization representing 300 of the largest US companies investing in India, said Saturday it was “hopeful the US Congress will consummate today’s international endorsement of India”.

The USIBC “now turns its attention to the 110th US Congress, which can clear the way for US companies to participate in India’s nuclear renaissance”.

“NSG approval is an historic step forward for India and for the world,” said USIBC president Ron Somers. “This landmark initiative will benefit global energy security, stem global warming, and it brings India into the global non-proliferation mainstream.”

While the US-India relationship is stronger than ever, “it is vital for the overall bilateral relationship and for US commercial interests that the 123 Agreement be ratified in this 110th US Congress”, he said.

India faces major energy deficits, importing more than 75 percent of the hydrocarbons it uses. India’s energy utilisation is fractional compared to most countries, consuming only 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per person per year as compared to 14,000 kilowatt hours per person consumed in Europe and the West.

India’s existing civilian nuclear power programme generates only 3,500 MW of electricity due to lack of access to much-needed fuel. India plans to increase this capacity to 30,000-60,000 MW over the next 20 years by acquiring fuel from the NSG countries for its civilian nuclear energy programme - at a cost exceeding $100 billion, USIBC noted.

For US companies to participate in this opportunity, the next step will be for the US Congress to consider ratification of the NSG outcome, together with the unanimous August 2008 approval of a safeguards agreement issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it said.

Without a robust civil nuclear power programme, India will be forced to meet its energy requirements by relying on costly and polluting fossil fuels, which will dampen India’s 9 percent growth rate and keep untold millions trapped in poverty, the business lobby said.

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