India-US nuclear deal would open doors for new technology (Lead)

March 12th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 12 (IANS) With both US and India determined to go forward with their landmark civil nuclear deal, doors may soon open for new technology for New Delhi and an estimated $100 billion in trade for American firms.

“I was really reassured by the determination to go through it,” Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said at a press conference here Wednesday after three days of intense dialogue with the new Obama administration.

Refuting suggestions that the nuclear deal was not as high a priority for President Barack Obama as it was for his predecessor George W. Bush, he said: “The civil nuclear initiative was a bipartisan effort passed by a Democratic Congress during a Republican administration. That’s the strength of it.”

The finalisation of the deal had raised the India-US relationship to a new level of cooperation from economy to energy security, Menon said. “I think there is determination to go forward on both sides.”

Menon, who discussed the nuclear deal with both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his counterpart Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns, said the deal was making “steady progress”.

Noting that deal had already been signed, he said now it’s a question of operationalisation and bringing it down to the commercial level.

For that India had already signed an additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency and was domestically taking steps to sign the civil nuclear liability convention.

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) representing 300 of the largest US companies investing in India had recently led the largest trade mission of US commercial nuclear executives to visit India so far, with more than 30 world-class companies represented by 60 senior executives.

However, in the absence of a civil nuclear liability legislation In India, the US companies felt disadvantaged as the US law would not permit them to do business without it.

Once the door for trade opens, US nuclear companies could partner with India’s public and private sector companies to achieve India’s domestic energy security imperative.

The US commercial nuclear industry leads the world in size, performance, innovation, and engineering worldwide, according to the trade body.

The US is the largest generator of electric power in the world - with 27 percent of the world’s total installed capacity and nearly double the number of reactors as France.

The US also produces at roughly half to one third of the cost in other major countries. In recent decades, US reactor companies and civil nuclear engineering companies have remained at the forefront of innovation and engineering worldwide.

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