Watching the Republic Day parade, where 10 ASEAN leaders were chief guests, it was easy to miss the fact that the dates of their visit also marked the anniversary of another big visit three years ago: the visit by then U.S. President Barack Obama, when he announced a “breakthrough” in the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, to finally pave the way for a commercial contract. “The deal is done,” Sujatha Singh, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, said as the government issued papers and held briefings describing the nature of the agreement between India and the U.S. on supplier liability and tracking requirements, which would enable American companies to build nuclear power reactors in India. Today, nearly a decade since the memoranda of understanding were inked, and three years after the last wrinkles were ironed out, there is no sign yet of any concrete contract between an American company and the Indian authorities to build a reactor. In 2009, both GE-Hitachi and Toshiba-Westinghouse had begun talks on techno-commercial agreements for six reactors each in India. These commercial contracts were to be the start of the ‘payoff’ for the U.S. that had considerably shifted its stand on non-proliferation to give India the waivers needed, and they were to herald India’s arrival on the global nuclear power stage in return. Instead, GE-Hitachi’s plans were shelved after it rejected the Obama-Modi agreement in January 2015, saying GE would not accept the compromise formula on supplier liability. (While others have indicated they would accept the liability offer, none of them has put that on paper.) Toshiba-Westinghouse then carried the baton to actualise the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, but ran into a different storm as both Toshiba and Westinghouse had major financial troubles last year. After a near-bankruptcy, Toshiba jettisoned Westinghouse for just $4.6 billion to a Canadian consortium, a deal that is now expected to be cleared by the end of 2018.
The Hindu 3rd Feb 2018 read more »