- GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
- GS-3: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Progress on Indo-US nuclear deal
Context: The progress of greenfield projects since the Indo-US nuclear deal has been tardy.
What is India- US Nuclear deal?
- The U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement or Indo-US nuclear deal or the 123 Agreement was signed between US and India in 2005.
- Under the agreement, India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear activities.
- It also agreed to open up the civilian part to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
- The safeguard is aimed at ensuring that the nuclear material or technology brought in for civilian purposes is not diverted for military use. Out of its 22 operating/under construction nuclear facilities, India will place 14 under IAEA safeguard.
- The accord took three years to be finalized, during which it went through a series of complex stages that included
- Amendment of U.S. domestic law
- Formulation of a civil-military nuclear separation plan in India
- An India-IAEA safeguards (inspections) agreement.
- Grant of an exemption for India by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG).
- In return, the US offered to resume full nuclear trade i.e selling of reactors, Transfer of Technology, Uranium sale with India.
- Further, the agreement also lays down the clause of “non-interference” in India’s strategic program. Thus, the Indian nuclear power program stands to get a much needed push without any threat to its strategic program.
Why the Indo-US Nuclear deal holds significant importance to India?
- Fissile material: Better access and aid in development of a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel
- Energy security for India
- Access to better technologies from US and developed world
- Recognizes India as a de-facto nuclear power
- De-hyphenation of relations: In refusing to extend the civil nuclear initiative to Islamabad, Washington removed the hyphen in its relations with Delhi and Islamabad. Since 2005, America has also discarded the idea of mediating between India and Pakistan, especially on the Kashmir question
Deal was used as Launchpad for Indo-US bilateral relationship
- The US has become one of India’s major suppliers of arms.
- Cooperation on counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing have expanded rapidly over the last decade
- The US has become India’s largest trading partner in goods and services, and the two sides have set an ambitious goal of half a trillion dollars for future trade.
- The growing commercial engagement has been reinforced by an intensification of people-to-people contact and the presence of the 3 million strong Indian diasporas in America.
While the US has been discussing the sale of nuclear reactors to India since the 2008 pact, two subsequent agreements were signed only in 2016 and 2019
- Nuclear Power Project in Kovvada in coastal Andhra Pradesh
- A “project proposal” is to set up six reactors in collaboration with Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) but work is yet to begin.
- The will comprise six reactor units of 1208 MWe (mega watt electric) capacity each.
- These are Light Water Reactors where water is used both as coolant and moderator. (Similar technology in Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam plant built in collaboration with Russia)
- The project, however, came under a cloud after WEC filed for bankruptcy in mid-2017 following cost overruns on reactors coming up in the US.
- As a result, the Kovavada project has made barely any progress.
- Nuclear Power Project Jaitapur, Maharashtra.
- It consists of six EPR (European Pressurised Water Reactors) reactors by French state-owned operator Areva which was subsequently taken over by the French electricity utility EDF, also controlled by the state.
- EDF is learnt to have submitted to NPCIL techno-commercial offer that will effectively enable discussions aimed at a binding framework agreement in the coming months.
Do You Know?
India has also signed Inter Governmental Agreements for co-operation in peaceful use of nuclear energy with 14 other countries: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Czech Republic, European Union, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Namibia, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, UK and Vietnam.
Connecting the dots