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US official: Civil nuclear cooperation between India and the United States is an “important piece of unfinished business”

US official: Civil nuclear cooperation between India and the United States is an “important piece of unfinished business”

US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Jeffrey R. Pyatt on Monday described the Indo-US nuclear cooperation envisaged under the nuclear deal two decades ago as an “important piece of unfinished business” and that there was a “mutual interest” in reaching a solution. How can the two countries move forward, both in terms of the large conventional reactors that were expected as part of the nuclear deal, but also more importantly the “fantastic new opportunities” emerging around small and modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Explaining civil nuclear cooperation, Mr. Pyatt referred to the talks he had in India, especially at the India-US Forum, and said he had found strong interest from Indian companies, including Adani, Tata, Reliance and Birla, all of whom had expressed interest in using small businesses. and the medium sized as part of its larger decarbonization strategy.

“Now to move forward with this, two things have to happen. One is that our companies in the U.S., companies in India, and companies elsewhere have to figure out how to scale up these SMR concepts to take the designs that have been developed and get them to the stage of regulatory approval and industrial deployment.” “But the other thing that needs to happen in India is to review the law to enable private companies to participate in the civil nuclear sector as private utilities do here in the United States. So, this will take time, but it is a natural area,” he said in response to a question from Convergence. Hindus While giving a virtual press conference.

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Mr. Bayat was in India from January 26 to 31, visiting New Delhi and Hyderabad. In New Delhi, as part of a series of meetings, he also attended the India-US Forum hosted by the Ananta Centre.

Indian regulations have hampered the Indo-US nuclear deal between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Corporation (WEC) to build six nuclear reactors at Kuvada in Andhra Pradesh, eight years after Modi-Obama announced the nuclear project. After completing the deal, and circumventing the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act of 2010, there is still no commercial technology offer.

SMR demonstrator

In line with this, he pointed to one company, Holtec International, which is currently targeting the deployment of its first SMR demonstration in Michigan by 2029, which he described as “essentially a nuclear tomorrow” and discussions are taking place at multiple levels across governments and the private sector. .

In this regard, Mr. Pyatt, who is familiar with India, having served at the US Embassy here, said what drove home the “really good” discussions at the India-US Forum was “how much we have delivered on the terms of our strategic cooperation across the spectrum.” In reference to a question at the forum addressed to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, which was held under the Chatham House rule but which he stated was okay to cite on a particular issue, it was whether “the level of cooperation between the United States and India Today in 2024 has lived up to the expectations we all had 20 years ago when the US-India nuclear deal was announced.

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He said that Mr. Jaishankar's response was exactly the same as his own, and that in fact “we have progressed much faster than anyone expected two decades ago.” In this context, he added, “…and then our cooperation has become very broad and very deep, and “This would not have been possible if we had not removed the nuclear choke point in our strategic relationship.”

Climate change

Speaking about his talks in India on clean energy and climate change, the Assistant Secretary stressed moving away from Chinese dominance in clean technology supply chains. In the Indian case, he emphasizes using India's manufacturing capabilities and labor costs to build a truly alternative supply chain, recognizing that going forward “one of the factors in how quickly our collective energy transition will succeed or fail” will be our ability to scale supply chains for everything from From solar cells to wind turbines to hydrogen electrolyzers.

In response to a question about the volatility in energy markets in the past two years and ways to mitigate it, Mr. Byatt said in the face of destabilization, we all need friends and allies and pointed to the incident of a British-operated oil tanker. MV Marilyn Luanda Which was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile in the Gulf of Aden, fired by Iran-backed Houthi militants. The Indian Navy intervened and also deployed fire-fighting teams to put out the flames and rescue the crew.

Of course, the US Navy has a large presence in the Red Sea, but it was the Indian Navy that came to rescue that ship, he said, referring to the aircraft carriers. “But it was very eye-catching to see the videos of Indian firefighters on board the ship and then I saw some of the strikes with the captain of that ship afterwards expressing their great gratitude to the Indian Navy for saving his ship,” he added, adding that it shows how India's capacity as a net security provider is. In the broader region it benefits the United States. He added that the “Asian Quad” was created for this type of cooperation and stressed that “we will need more and more of this type of partnership.” We look to the future especially as we try to navigate this particularly disruptive moment…”

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