Washington, March 13 (IANS) Reiterating that Washington remains ‘very much committed’ to the nuclear deal with India, a US official sees ‘good progress’ on crucial talks on reprocessing and hopes an accord would emerge well before the August deadline.
‘So, we’re now in the process of implementing that agreement,’ Robert O. Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, told Asahi Shimbun noting the ‘Obama administration has reaffirmed its support for that agreement.’
‘We have very important talks on reprocessing under way. Those are, I think, making good progress, and the deadline for completing those is August of this year, and we expect to be done well before then,’ Blake said.
An agreement on reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel eluded officials during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s November state visit. But officials on both sides have been at pains to stress that under the landmark nuclear deal the reprocessing talks have to be completed within one year of their start at India’s instance last August.
Blake said on its part US was also ‘very much hoping that the Indian government will proceed with very important legislation on nuclear liability, that will be very important protection for American companies who are seeking to do more business in the civil nuclear area, in India.’
‘And, the ultimate goal of ours is, of course, to allow the export of nuclear reactors to India,’ he said noting India has set aside two nuclear reactor park sites in the states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
The US was quite willing to provide India nuclear technology. ‘We’ll be providing the current generation of nuclear reactors,’ Blake said. The reprocessing agreement with India ‘will be in line with our international agreements that we have with every other country with which we’ve signed a 123 agreement.’
Asked if the US would try to convince India and Pakistan to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Blake said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already endorsed President Barack Obama’s vision of working towards a nuclear weapons-free world.
‘So, again, we think India can be a very important partner in this whole effort,’ Blake said while acknowledging, ‘India, of course, lives in a ‘sensitive region’ – where both China and Pakistan also have nuclear capabilities. So, this agreement will have to be pursued with those countries as part of any such effort.’
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)