India talk nuclear cooperation

24 October 2008

The USA and India have at last signed their long-debated nuclear cooperation deal, which will allow American nuclear power technology to be sold to Indian buyers. The agreement was inked at a US state department ceremony by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

There, Ms Rice said the agreement “demonstrates the vast potential partnership between India and the United States: potential that, frankly, has gone unfulfilled for too many decades of mistrust.” The deal lifts a ban on the USA trading nuclear equipment, fuel and reactors with India which was imposed in 1974 when the Indira Gandhi government first tested a nuclear weapon. Mr Mukherjee added: “We look forward to working with the US companies on the commercial steps that will follow to implement this landmark agreement,” which the Confederation of Indian Industry has claimed might produce $27 billion investment in 18 to 20 nuclear plants in India over 15 years.

The signature comes as the European Union (EU) and India have been discussing intensifying their own cooperation on nuclear power. The issue was widely debated at a recent EU-India summit, in Marseilles, France. Heads of government supported ongoing discussions to forge a bilateral agreement on fusion energy research, which will compliment joint-assistance rendered under the Iter project. A joint communiqué committed both side to further “cooperate in [all kinds of] civil nuclear research and development”. They also both expressed “serious concern” about the Iranian nuclear programme and supported current diplomatic efforts to resolve the controversy.

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