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US-India Business Council Supports 123 Approval

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

Washington, July 27 (UNI) The US-India Business Council (USIBC) today hailed the statesmanship inherent in the emerging details of the 123 Agreement that will enable implementation of the Henry J Hyde US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, passed last December 2006 by wide bipartisan majority, enabling civilian nuclear cooperation between the United States and India.

In a statement issued here hours after a joint statement was issued by the US and India, USIBC said it supports Congressional approval of the agreement, which on Wednesday was cleared by India's Union Cabinet, and which must now be cleared by the US 110th Congress.

The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 was amended by a House vote of 359-68 and a Senate vote of 85-12 last December ending a decades-old technology denial regime against India. The 123 Agreement provides the implementation guidelines for nuclear energy cooperation between the two countries.

The 123 Agreement compliments the Hyde Act, and will make way for significant US-India collaboration, said Ron Somers, President of the US-India Business Council.

The next steps in the process require India to successfully conclude a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, for the 45-Nation Nuclear Suppliers Group to consider India's entry into this multilateral organisation, and for the 110th US Congress to vote up or down in support of the 123 Agreement.

Civilian nuclear cooperation with the world's largest free-market democracy will bring India into the nuclear non-proliferation mainstream, will enhance safety and lessen environmental impacts to the global environment, and will present a major opportunity for US and Indian companies. The nuclear deal is the single most important external treaty signed by India in the past few decades.

For the US, the advent of civilian nuclear cooperation is the hallmark of a transformed strategic partnership with India that will shape the geo-political destiny of the 21st Century, Mr Somers said.

In parallel with the next steps leading to the induction of India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group we urge both the US Congress and Indian Parliament to address the issue of liability - by adopting the multilateral Convention of Supplementary Compensation (CSC), so US and Indian private sector companies can engage in India's nuclear power build-out, said Mr Somers.

India has announced plans to expand its current installed nuclear energy capacity from 3500 MW to 60,000 MW over the next 30 years.

The expansion is valued at 150 billion dollars, and portends the creation of thousands of jobs in the US and India for decades to come.

Americans will be unable to reap the full benefit of this partnership without the US Congress and India ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), which would provide a compensation mechanism against unforeseen liabilities. Without this mechanism, Americans would be put at a disadvantage in competition with public sector companies from France and Russia.

We urge speedy legislative action on the CSC by both legislative bodies in parallel with these other steps, Mr Somers said.

India's rapidly expanding economy, growing at greater than 9% GDP, is confronting a major energy deficit. The US has 104 existing nuclear power reactors with 17 new proposals awaiting license. This global energy security challenge portends major collaborations between American and Indian companies.

UNI

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