New Delhi: After over three years of laborious negotiations the Indo-US nuclear deal cleared its final hurdle with the US Senate voting to ratify it. The act is likely to be signed into law when US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice visits New Delhi on Saturday. The nuclear deal has conferred on India the de-facto status of a P6 power. The significance of the 123 Agreement, cannot be underestimated as not only has it reversed 34 years of US nuclear non-cooperation with India, but many view this as endorsement of India’s increasing weight in international affairs.
Economically it’s a huge leap forward for energy-hungry India. It could mean power companies getting high value orders from US for nuclear reactor components. It could also translate into technology deals in sectors such as defense, IT and nanotechnology. The deal will also go a long way in helping generate an additional 48,000 mw of power by 2032.
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The deal also clears the way for American and European nuclear companies to bid for contracts worth $27 billion to build 18-20 nuclear reactors in India. And though its high cost may mean nuclear energy never comprises more than 6% of India’s power generation, it will go a long way to fill the growing economy’s desperate energy deficit.
The nuclear deal has also sparked a big debate whether India has surrendered its sovereign right to conduct a nuclear test post implementation of the 123 agreement. Some analysts and the opposition allege that all civil nuclear cooperation will cease once India tests an atomic weapon. That could mean a return to a nuclear winter.