Mumbai: India is seeking nuclear energy agreements with France and Russia while it awaits approval by the US Congress for a deal allowing the South Asian nation to buy atomic technology and fuel after a three-decade ban.
India is “moving toward finalizing bilateral agreements” with the two countries, the foreign ministry said in a statement in New Delhi on Thursday. The government has also conveyed its intention to buy nuclear technology and facilities from the US, according to the statement.
France’s Areva SA and Russia’s Rosatom Corp. may get a head start on Indian orders after the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the ban on 6 September. US companies such as General Electric Co., which want a shot at selling atomic fuel and technology to an economy that needs to power growth of more than 8% annually since 2003, have to wait until Congress ratifies the agreement reached with India.
President George W. Bush submitted the accord to Congress for final approval, saying it meets the terms set by lawmakers almost two years ago and poses no risk to security.
Deal maker: President George W. Bush has submitted the Indo-US deal to the US Congress for final approval. US firms that want nuclear trade with India have to wait until the deal is ratified by Congress. Reuters
“The proposed agreement provides a comprehensive framework for US peaceful nuclear cooperation with India,” Bush said in a statement issued late on Wednesday. The accord “will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defence and security.”
India needs nuclear technology and fuel from the US, France and Russia to fire 40,000MW of power planned to help cut peak electricity shortages of 15%. The nuclear supplier nations allowed India to engage in the trade of nuclear fuel and supplies, swayed by the promise of the country keeping its moratorium on nuclear bomb testing.
India plans to acquire nuclear equipment worth $14 billion (Rs63,000 crore) next year, Shreyans Kumar Jain, chairman of state-run monopoly Nuclear Power Corp., said on 8 September.
The company plans to buy reactors from General Electric and Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co., Jain said. Nuclear Power has also short-listed Areva and Rosatom.
Nuclear Power has started a “preliminary dialogue with US companies” to buy atomic technology, according to the foreign ministry statement.
About 3% of India’s electricity is generated from Russian-designed nuclear reactors. The country has 17 atomic reactors in six states that produce 4,120MW of power, according to Nuclear Power’s website.
General Electric, the world’s biggest maker of energy generation equipment, said on 25 August it may lose contracts in India to French, Russian and Japanese rivals if the US Congress doesn’t ratify the US-India nuclear deal soon after the agreement gets the approval of the suppliers group.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said the US has talked to India about the potential competitive disadvantage.
“I think they recognize and appreciate American leadership on this issue,” she said. “Because of that, I think we’ll have ways to talk to them about not disadvantaging American companies.”