With Clinton's nuclear assurance; India, US to hold reprocessing talks | delhi | Hindustan Times
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With Clinton's nuclear assurance; India, US to hold reprocessing talks

delhi Updated: Jul 19, 2009 15:56 IST
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With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton making it clear that the future of the India-US nuclear deal is secure despite the G8 declaration on the transfer of sensitive technologies, the two countries will hold talks in Vienna next week on reprocessing American-origin spent fuel.

Undeterred by the G8 declaration this month on banning the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to those countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India is likely to announce two sites for American nuclear reactors after Clinton's talks with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna in New Delhi on Monday.

These sites are likely to be in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, reliable sources told IANS.

In another important step to implement the India-US civil nuclear accord signed last year, Indian and American officials will hold talks in Vienna on July 21 to reach an agreement on arrangements and procedures for reprocessing spent fuel.

With the difficult experience of the US-assisted Tarapur reactor in the past, India wants to ensure there are no glitches this time round on the issue of reprocessing.

The negotiation on reprocessing to be done in a safeguarded facility in India, according to the 123 agreement, has to be completed within a year after it begins.

Richard Stratford, director of the Office of Nuclear Energy Affairs in the State Department, will lead the American side. A five-member technical committee will be headed by RB Grover, director (strategic planning group) in the Atomic Energy Commission.

The US is understood to have handed to India a draft earlier this month that could form the basis for the Vienna talks.

The transfer of sensitive reprocessing technologies is currently barred under the US law save for exceptions like Japan.

With the G8 declaration at the L'Aquila summit banning the export of the sensitive ENR technologies, India will seek clarifications on the reprocessing issue from the US when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Krishna meet Clinton.

India has said it will go by a country-specific clean waiver it has received from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

In an interview to the Times Now after landing in Mumbai on Thursday, Clinton stressed that "the civil nuclear deal stands on its own merit".

"No. I worked hard to pass the India-US civil nuke deal and am very committed to it and its implementation," Clinton replied when asked if the nuclear deal will be held hostage to India signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Clinton, however, stressed that the US will seek India's help in preventing the proliferation of nuclear technologies to non-state actors and countries like Iran and North Korea.