WASHINGTON: The United States has assured India that it remains committed to strengthening bilateral civil nuclear cooperation with New Delhi and wants to build six nuclear power plants in the country.
The United States reiterated this assurance in a joint statement issued after the 9th round of the US-India Strategic Security Dialogue, held in Washington on Wednesday. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson led their teams in the talks.
“They committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six US nuclear power plants in India,” said the joint statement issued after the talks. It gave no further details of the nuclear plant project.
The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of global security and non-proliferation challenges and “reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors,” the statement added.
In the joint statement, the United States also “reaffirmed its strong support of India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.”
On March 12, India’s Additional Secretary for Disarmament and International Security Affairs Indra Mani Pandey and Dr. Yleem D.S. Poblete, US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control co-chaired the third round of the US-India Space Dialogue, where they discussed trends in space threats, respective national space priorities, and opportunities for cooperation bilaterally and in multilateral fora.
The United States and India have been discussing the possibility of setting up US nuclear reactors in the country for more than a decade but the need to bring Indian liability laws in line with international norms has delayed the process. Current Indian laws require the maker of a nuclear power plant to shoulder the costs of any accident. The US wants it changed to make the operator bear the costs instead of the maker.
A US company, Westinghouse has been negotiating to build reactors in India for years but Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after cost overruns on US reactors.
The United States and India signed a civil nuclear deal in 2008 and in 2016 they announced an agreement to build the reactors.
India plans to triple its nuclear capacity. Last October, India and Russia signed a pact to build six more nuclear reactors at a new site in India.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019