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India looks forward to opening up of international civil N-cooperation
Lalitha Vaidyanathan in Vienna | September 19, 2007 15:50 IST
India on Wednesday said it looked forward to the opening up of international civil nuclear cooperation that is sustainable, free from interruption and consistent with its national policy.
Addressing the 51st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, India's top nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar said India also has the potential of becoming a manufacturing hub for the global nuclear industry.
"India is looking forward to the possibility of opening up of international civil nuclear cooperation. We expect such cooperation to be sustainable, free from interruptions and consistent with our national policy of closed fuel cycle,"said Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
He noted that an AEC panel has evaluated several coastal sites in the country for setting up of imported reactors.
Kakodkar said reactor imports were an additionality to the ongoing indigenous nuclear programme to significantly augment nuclear power generation capacity in the near term.
He said the civil nuclear deal with the US also opens up the possibility of export of reactors and services.
"India today is the only country to have technologies, design and infrastructure for small Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors with a unit capacity of 220 MW, which have a great potential for export, particularly to countries with small grids, wishing to enter nuclear power generation with relatively modest investment and infrastructure," he said.
"With India's large infrastructure base and relatively low manufacturing cost, there is also potential for India becoming a manufacturing hub for equipment and components for the global nuclear industry," he said.
Kakodkar's comments came as the US spoke of the urgency to conclude the processes to get the deal going.
"Time is of the essence" to take the last steps in operationalising the agreement, US Ambassador to India David Mulford said in New Delhi.
In Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher said the US is trying to do its
"I think both India and the United States have a role in that," he said.
"But the timing of all these... and how we are going to bring it to fruition is a little bit unclear," Boucher said.
"We also know we have political time-tables and it is better to move this as soon as possible," he said.
Upping their ante, Left parties have asked the UPA government to put the implementation of the deal on hold for six months or face a "political crisis."
"India has made its position very clear that it expects clean, unconditional exemption after recognising it as a unique country," Kakodkar said.
"The 123 agreement has made provision for sustained supply of fuel for the imported reactors and the NSG guidelines would have to be consistent with it. That is why we are emphasising on clean, unconditional exemption," he said.
He said these things have to be done in a "correct manner fully protecting Indian interests."
In a related development, Indian Ambassador to Austria Sheel Kant Sharma had a meeting with the NSG's Troika -- South Africa, Brazil [Images] and Germany [Images] (past, present and future leaders of the grouping) -- as part of an outreach programme of the NSG.