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India-USA nuclear deal very ‘up in the air’: no document signed

no specific document was signed

India is already generating more power from wind turbines alone than from nuclear power and has announced a solar target of 100 gigawatt by 2022. So it is perfectly coherent that the joint US-India declaration contains one paragraph on nuclear cooperation and eight on clean energy.

Flag-USAflag-indiaBreakthrough in US-India civil nuclear deal ‘more symbolism than reality’, DW 29 Jan 15 The US and India announced a “breakthrough” in resolving a liability spat that has stalled the implementation of a civil nuclear deal. But Mycle Schneider tells DW this is more about geopolitics than industrial reality.

“…….Mycle Schneider, an independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy, says in a DW interview that there is no real market for foreign nuclear companies in India, unless they bring their own funding, adding that the recent announcement is more about presenting both countries as equal partners than it is about the vision of a future blooming Indian nuclear export industry.

DW: What exactly does the new nuclear deal entail?

Mycle Schneider: Very little has so far been published about it. First of all, it is unclear whether there is even a “new nuclear deal.” Usually, when heads of state meet, the occasion is used to sign agreements. However, on this issue, the US-India joint statement only says President Obama and Prime Minister Modi welcomed the “understandings reached” on the issues of civil nuclear liability and “administrative arrangements for civil nuclear cooperation.”

Apparently, no specific document was signed. ………

Unlike all other aspirants for nuclear technology aid, India is not required anymore to put its entire fuel chain, facilities and materials, under comprehensive international control or so-called Full-Scope Safeguards. India has merely promised to separate its nuclear weapons related activities from the power sector……….

India law created liabilities for suppliers in the event of a nuclear accident. Are they not liable anymore?

The 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act has been voted by both houses of the Indian parliament. It remains in place as long as it has not been invalidated by a new vote. In that respect, absolutely nothing has changed from the situation prior to President Obama’s visit to India.

Considering the fact that the Act has not only been attacked by the nuclear industry side, but also from civil society representatives because it caps the liability of the nuclear operators to a ridiculously small sum of 240 million USD, reopening the parliamentary debate over this fragile compromise seems unlikely at this point. It also seems unlikely that the establishment of an insurance fund would fundamentally change the liability situation of nuclear suppliers.

What do India and the US expect to gain from this civil nuclear deal?

This is a typical example of announcement politics. Both governments are presenting the outcome of the US-India summit as a great success. But it is more an issue of symbolism and geopolitics than of industrial reality. The promise to continue to work together towards India’s “phased entry” into the Nuclear Suppliers Group as into three other international control regimes is more about presenting both countries as equal partners than it is about the vision of a future blooming Indian nuclear export industry.

Do you expect the Indian market to now become more appealing for US nuclear companies?

In reality, there is no real market for foreign nuclear companies in India, unless they bring their own funding. Under free market conditions it is not possible anymore to build a nuclear power plant anywhere in the world.

So if new reactors are built in India or elsewhere, the projects are highly subsidized, either by the government—the taxpayer—or the ratepayer. The Indian nuclear industry has painted a rosy picture of the nuclear future for decades and has delivered very little in comparison.

It is actually amazing to what extent overstretched projections of “hundreds of billions investment” are still being held up. Disconnected from reality, they are an effect of what Princeton University researcher M.V. Ramana has appropriately described as “The Power of Promise.”

India is already generating more power from wind turbines alone than from nuclear power and has announced a solar target of 100 gigawatt by 2022. So it is perfectly coherent that the joint US-India declaration contains one paragraph on nuclear cooperation and eight on clean energy.

Mycle Schneider is an independent international energy and nuclear policy consultant, based in Paris. He is the convening lead author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report and a member of the Princeton University-based International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM). Schneider is a founding member and the spokesperson of the International Energy Advisory Council (IEAC).

The interview was conducted by Gabriel Domínguez.  http://www.dw.de/breakthrough-in-us-india-civil-nuclear-deal-more-symbolism-than-reality/a-18221115

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January 30, 2015 - Posted by | India, politics international, USA

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