India/U.S. Reprocessing Agreement Signed

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The agreement is the culmination of over a year of negotiations."

Nuclear energy cooperation between the U.S. and India has taken another step forward with the signature of an agreement that will enable India to reprocess U.S.-obligated nuclear material.

The agreement on arrangements and procedures for reprocessing signed in Washington by U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns and Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Meera Shankar is the culmination of over a year of negotiations. Once it enters into force, it will mean that India will be able to reprocess U.S.-obligated nuclear materials at a new national facility dedicated to the reprocessing of material under IAEA safeguards.

Though the reprocessing agreement was negotiated and concluded under the administration of President Obama, it follows on from the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement finalized during the previous administration. Nonetheless, it is a prerequisite for U.S. nuclear fuel suppliers to carry out trade with India, which has a flourishing nuclear power program but only modest domestic uranium resources. The U.S., which currently does not carry out reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, has previously only extended similar consent to EU countries and to Japan. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ambassador Shankar talked of India's ambitious nuclear development program—the country plans to have 35,000 MWe of nuclear capacity installed by 2022 and 60,000 MWe by 2032. "International cooperation, including cooperation with U.S. firms, is an important component of this plan," she said, going on to mention that the Indian government has already designated two sites for nuclear power plants to be established in cooperation with the U.S. "The companies of the two countries are now engaged in discussions," she said.

An important milestone for overseas cooperation in India's nuclear program will be the country's proposed law on nuclear civil liability, currently before the Indian government.

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