The Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, also known as the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, refers to a bilateral accord on civil nuclear cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of India. The much-anticipated deal had been in the making for several years, until New Delhi and Washington completed a civil-nuclear-energy agreement in 2008, considered a landmark in bilateral relations between the two democracies and a first step toward recognition of India’s nuclear program.
Why India needs Nuclear energy?
Today, India has an installed capacity of 4.5 GW of nuclear power which accounts for 3 percent of the total electricity generated. The demand for power is projected to stand at about 350-400 GW by 2020 and nuclear power generation capacity is expected to increase to about 35 GW. India targets to achieve 25 percent electricity production from this source by 2050. It would be baffling to mention that France, at present, generates 78% of its electricity from nuclear power plant. The U.S.-India deal could also reduce the perceived costs to states that might consider “going nuclear” in the future.
Besides, nuclear power is a clean source of energy. Amazingly, 1 GW of power station would consume roughly 3.1 million tonnes of black coal each year as compared to only 24 tonnes of enriched uranium.
There has been an unusual delay in the bill reaching towards its implementation but there has been intermittent forward movement towards building on the foundational basis laid down by it. One such noteworthy development happened in 2009 when the Indian government specifically delineated two sites for hosting American-origin reactors and this was conveyed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her visit to India the same year.
After all these years, it seemed like a significant leap forward for U.S.-India relations when Secretary of State John Kerry announced American nuclear equipment supplier Westinghouse Electric Co. would sign a “commercial agreement” to sell nuclear reactors to India’s Nuclear Power Corporation by September, 2013. Mr. Kerry’s declaration, which came during a three-day trip to India for regular strategic talks, was meant to signal progress in the countries’ hitherto abortive efforts to trade in nuclear technology. The U.S. sees the Westinghouse-NPCIL agreement as a key test of whether the nuclear deal can indeed proceed as it had hoped, and ensure projects for its companies. General Electric, another nuclear giant that wants to provide the nuclear reactors for a planned complex in Andhra Pradesh, is also watching the agreement closely.
It seems finally we are in a situation where that significant light at the end of the tunnel isn’t just a blur, but a definite reality.