In a significant achievement for India, the agreement with US on reprocessing provides for setting up of two dedicated facilities where the American spent nuclear fuel would be reprocessed under IAEA safeguards and has scope for establishing additional ones.
Under the Agreement on Arrangements and Procedures, India will have to identify the facilities and notify these to the IAEA for application of safeguards and physical protection of the facility.
The provision for setting up of at least two facilities is a significant achievement for Indian negotiators as the US had been insisting that only one such facility should be established.
The Indian negotiators, on the other hand, had been arguing that there should be at least two facilities as two locations, far away from each other, have been earmarked for the US to set up their reactors and transportation of nuclear material would be fraught with risks.
India has allocated Chhayamithi Virdi in Gujarat and Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh for the US to set up their reactors and New Delhi was arguing that the reprocessing facilities should be located nearby.
The Agreement has a provision for temporary suspension of the arrangements, but this can be done only in "exceptional circumstances".
These include determination by either India or the US that continuance of the US-obligated nuclear material would result in a "serious threat" to its national security or a "serious threat" to the physical protection of the facility, or the nuclear material.
The second condition for suspension would be determination by either India or the US that it is an "unavoidable measure".
The decision to suspend reprocessing will have to be taken at the highest level of government and will have to take into account its effect on the civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries and impact on Indian economy and energy.
However, the period of suspension cannot be more than three months at a time "unless extended by the party (either India or US) seeking suspension for specific reasons conveyed in writing to the other party."
The maximum period of suspension of reprocessing will be six months during which there is provision for consultations on "compensation for the adverse impact on the Indian economy due to disruption in electricity generation and loss on account of disruption of contractual obligations."