Indo-U.S. common atomic settlement prone to miss June due date

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Bankruptcy of reactor maker Westinghouse clouds operationalisation of the deal.

More than two years after India and the U.S. announced that the civil nuclear deal was “done,” its actual operationalisation is in doubt over a number of developments that stretch from a “school scandal” in the Japanese parliament in Tokyo to the Cranberry, Pennsylvania headquarters of Westinghouse Electric, which is expected to file for bankruptcy this week.

Six reactors for A.P.

According to the agreement over liability issues and the negotiations that followed former U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June 2016, the two sides had agreed to “work toward finalising the contractual arrangements by June 2017” for six reactors to be built in Andhra Pradesh by Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

When completed, this was to be the first operationalisation of the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal, which was announced in 2008, and proof that both sides have effectively sorted out all their issues, including over the liability that suppliers must accept in the event of an accident.

However, recent developments have led to uncertainty over the June 2017 timeline. An MEA official told The Hindu, “We are monitoring all developments. We are engaged with all parties. Our intent is to stick to the deadline, for which competitive financing arrangements need to be in place. It must be emphasised that the outlook of global industry on cooperation in India’s civil nuclear programme remains positive.”

The reason for the concern is that the Indo-U.S. nuclear arrangement hinged on two major factors — the completion of the India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), as Toshiba and other suppliers for reactor parts are bound by Japanese laws and by the actual contract to be negotiated by the U.S.-based Westinghouse.

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