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India, US discuss global partnership

India and the US come together to discuss an international Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 16:54 IST

As India and the US step up negotiations to reach what looks like a difficult civil nuclear energy agreement, the two sides Wednesday began discussions on Washington's new brainwave: an ambitious broad-based Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) that envisages an international programme for the production of nuclear power and exchange of nuclear fuel.

US Undersecretary of Energy David Garman met Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and presented the broad outlines of the GNEP that is being touted by the Bush administration as a "nuclear renaissance" crucial to meeting the world's growing energy needs, which were expected to double by 2050.

The two top officials will also discuss the possibility of India's participation in new-age Generation IV nuclear reactors and $1 billion dollar FutureGen project aimed at building the world's first "zero-emission" coal-fuelled power plant, sources said.

The details of India's participation in the multi-billion dollar International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) that aims at producing nuclear energy through the fusion method will also be discussed between the two sides.

Garman is likely to meet other officials from the department of energy and environment Thursday.

The discussions on the GNEP begin at a critical stage in negotiations between the two sides over a civil nuclear agreement, with India's Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar saying in an interview that New Delhi was not ready to place its indigenous fast breeder reactor programme in the civilian list.

If differences over New Delhi's separation plan of its civilian and military nuclear facilities are anything to go by, the agreement might not be in place before President George Bush comes here in early March.

The GNEP, which is part of Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, seeks a partnership with other nuclear power producing countries such as Britain, France, Russia, China and Japan to export nuclear fuel waste to developing countries and encourage them to use so-called fast reactors that burn plutonium and other by-products from conventional reactors.

This arrangement, which has been designed to allay proliferation concerns, would enable the construction of nuclear power plants in the US for the first time in a generation and development of fuel recycling facilities in a consortium of "nations with secure, advanced nuclear capabilities."

"The reason we think this can work from a non-proliferation standpoint is that we are seeking to provide commercially attractive incentives for countries to lease fuel rather than make investments in their own fuel cycle," Clay Sell, US deputy secretary of energy, had said in Washington early this week.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 16:54 IST