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Report | November 2011

Taking stock of the Indo-US N-deal

The 2005 civil nuclear deal was a catalytic joint venture that transformed the US-India strategic relationship, establishing trust between government leaders and demonstrating to the international community what the two democracies could accomplish together, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) Geoffrey R Pyatt said at the Indo-US Nuclear Energy Safety Summit in Mumbai. Excerpts from his speech.

In his speech, he cited the strong line-up of top tier US private sector participants at the nuclear summit as evidence that the US government is committed to partnering actively in the growth of India's civil nuclear capacity. He also renewed former US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke's invitation to bring a trade mission from India to the US for meetings with counterparts in government, at manufacturing facilities, national research laboratories and educational institutions. The visit would be an opportunity for Indian business leaders to learn how to navigate the US export licensing process and debunk any lingering concerns that a license requirement for a particular item means a license will be denied. Finally, he said that the years since 2005 have seen a period of unprecedented collaboration between the two governments on a vast range of issues, working together to forge a partnership that will face the challenges of the 21st century.

He said, "This Indo-US Nuclear Safety Summit comes at a crucial juncture in our civil-nuclear partnership and at an important moment for India's entire nuclear power industry.
We meet today in Mumbai, one of the great cities of the world. It has been four years since I have visited this remarkable global hub, a metropolis whose skyscrapers and side streets, boardrooms and chai vendors provide one of the most dramatic manifestations of India's stunning diversity and youthful energy.

It is always inspiring to come back here, and to witness this city on the move - becoming bigger, taller, and continuing to secure its place at the centre of Asia, a nexus for capital and knowledge in the 21st century.

As much as Mumbai has changed in the four years that I have been away, the contours of the US-India relationship have changed even more. It has been a little over six years since the joint statement in which President Bush and Prime Minister Singh outlined a vision for co-operation on civilian nuclear energy that many of us have worked diligently since then to fulfill. This has been a period of unprecedented collaboration between our two governments, as we have worked together to meet the demands of this young century, forging a partnership that will be of fundamental importance to both our countries.

Specifically I'd like to 1) review the objectives of our civil-nuclear cooperation; 2) take a look at how we got here and what remains to be done and 3) lay out Washington's vision for where this partnership will take us."

Strategic logic of Indo-US cooperation

The symbolic core of our transformed bilateral relationship is the 2005 nuclear deal, and our subsequent work together in the US Congress, before the IAEA, and with the member states
of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to enable its implementation.

Our civil nuclear cooperation is about more than just powering computers and cell phones. It is fundamentally about transforming the strategic relationship between our two countries by working together to achieve the "indispensible partnership" that President Obama reaffirmed during his visit to India.

The logic of our strategic relationship and our civil-nuclear co-operation ultimately centres on people. Imagine for instance a young girl from a rural village. She has the drive and the determination to get her education, to chart a successful career, and make a difference in the world. However, the odds are stacked against her because her village has no consistent electricity, and suffers from health challenges and other blights because of its isolation. Her school has outdated books, and doesn't have the power to tap into the vast catalogue of school materials available online. She is not without hope, and she is determined. But she - and all of the inhabitants of her village - deserve a chance. They need to be given the opportunity to learn, to compete, and to be able to utilise the technology that the 21st century has to offer! Our nuclear partnership will provide the energy that can help make this girl's dreams - and the hopes of many others like her - a reality.

Where we stand today and where we are going tomorrow

One thing our bilateral civil-nuclear cooperation has taught all of us is that by working together our two countries can tackle even the toughest of problems. As Secretary Clinton noted in Chennai, "If we redouble our efforts we are poised to go even further in our civil-nuclear cooperation. And the commercial opportunities in India's nuclear energy market continue to grow every day."

India has the largest number of reactors planned or under construction out of any country in the world. Coupled with heavy investment in infrastructure, the recent discovery of uranium deposits in Andhra Pradesh, and an increasing reliance on private enterprise, there are vast commercial opportunities in virtually every segment of the Indian nuclear energy market.  
India can now select from a wide choice of international nuclear suppliers to supplement its indigenous efforts, but I assure you that American technology and American companies are the best the world has to offer:
  • For starters, the US has over 50 years' experience operating and maintaining the largest fleet of nuclear energy reactors anywhere in the world at world-class levels of safety and reliability.
  • Almost half of all nuclear power plants in the world are based on Westinghouse's pressurised water technology and nearly 20 per cent are based on General Electric's boiling water technology. That means more than 60 per cent of the world's reactors are based on technology developed in the United States. And every day, our firms continue to innovate, setting an ever-higher bar for next-generation nuclear energy technologies. As we look ahead to the future of our civil-nuclear cooperation we are additionally encouraged by our rapidly expanding science and technology cooperation.  
The Indo-US Civil-nuclear Energy Working Group, co-chaired by India's Department of Atomic Energy and the US Department of Energy, has developed an Action Plan and will focus on co-operation on both high temperature gas reactors and nuclear safety in the coming year. We intend to sustain our efforts to expand scientific collaboration in this important area to build on these successes. And we look forward to similar successes in the near future for US companies in the Indian N-energy market.

We all have learned that crafting and implementing a civil-nuclear agreement is a long and complex endeavour. It has been an evolving process that ultimately will allow citizens from both our countries to thrive, and prosper throughout the 21st century. In the face of inevitable setbacks we persevered, worked together, and accomplished what our leaders resolved to do. Now we must implement it.

We believe that Secretary Clinton's vision of the day when the "computers of a school in Gujarat are powered by a reactor designed in America" will not only mark the successful completion of our six-year civil-nuclear co-operation effort, but will be the first page of a new and promising chapter in our relationship.

The future of the US-India partnership has never been brighter: driven by core strategic congruity, extraordinary people-to-people ties, and historic cooperation on civil-nuclear energy, it will only grow stronger in the century that lies before us.
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