Mumbai: India and the US have completed first round of consultations on arrangements and procedures on reprocessing of spent fuel of American origin on Indian soil, a department of atomic energy (DAE) official said on Saturday.
The consultations, which took place in Vienna, are considered as a significant step to further the interaction at commercial level and for the operationalization of the India-US nuclear deal, the official said.
The first round of talks which began early this week ended on Thursday and the process is likely to be finished in two months.
“We expect the consultations to be over in two months so that the implementation of 123 agreement can start within the timeframe given in the agreement,” a top official said.
“The consultations were strictly based on Article 6 (III) of the 123 agreement between India and US and few more meetings are expected to take place,” he said.
The five-member Indian delegation was led by Ravi B. Grover, the director of DAE strategic planning group (SPG) and also the director of the knowledge management group.
Washington’s point man for nuclear negotiations with India Richard Stratford, who is the director of the office of nuclear energy affairs in the state department, headed the US team.
According to the agreement, to bring reprocessing rights into effect, India has to establish a new national facility dedicated to reprocessing safeguarded nuclear material under the safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
India has to reach an agreement with the US on arrangements and procedures under which such reprocessing will take place in this new facility.
“We should have upfront sovereign rights in whatever we do including reprocessing,” another DAE official said.
Meanwhile, the India-US business group said in a communication that both the countries must swiftly conclude a bilateral agreement to grant India prior consent to reprocess spent fuel of US origin.
Fearing that countries like France and Russia are going ahead in business with India, the group said, the conclusion of a reprocessing agreement should not delay Indian contracts with US commercial nuclear suppliers.
The business group on nuclear commerce is keen that India completes procedures for Liability Law. India promised to adopt a liability law in its letter of intent in September 2008 and the private-sector nuclear industry in India and the US are awaiting fulfillment of the promise.