US control regime a hurdle in N-deal

US export control regime has become a major stumbling block for concluding commercial nuclear agreements under the four-year-old Indo-US civil nuclear agreement signed in 2008 for peaceful uses of nuclear power.

US nuclear suppliers on Wednesday identified their own country’s control regime as the spoil sport for entering into agreements with Indian companies. The most immediate concern for the two US nuclear majors – GE and Westinghouse – is a specific provision in the US export control rules under which they have to obtain clearance from the US government not only for supplying reactors to NPCIL but also for other Indian companies involved in constructing a nuclear power plant.

“The 810 licence in the US export control regime is the most immediate issue,” Aris S Candris, president and chief executive officer of Westinghouse told Deccan Herald on the sidelines of an international nuclear symposium here.

At the symposium organised by the World Nuclear Association, both Westinghouse and GE flagged 810 licence as the most immediate stumbling block to kick-start nuclear commerce between the two countries, though both admitted that stiff Indian nuclear liability regime posed another big hurdle. India currently plans to purchase two AP-1000 light water reactors from Westinghouse to install in Chhaya Mithi Virdi in Gujarat and two 1000 MW reactors from GE for Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh. However, land acquisition process has not started yet.

Candris said Westinghouse obtained the 810 approval for the Indian operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India  and regulator, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. But it needed similar clearance for other nuclear industry players like Larsen and Toubro as well as other companies who will be engaged in constructing nuclear power plant.

“Its an issue with the US administration. The approval boils down to every company and to individuals. Same time was taken by the US administration before supplying reactors to China. We have obtained the shipping licence from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Candris said.

According to the US department of commerce, Part 810 refers to the process set forth in 10 Code of Federal Regulations. Under the US Atomic Energy Act of 1957, it authorises the US Secretary of Energy to give clearance to the production of special nuclear material outside the US. The provision applies to transfers and technical assistance to all activities of the nuclear fuel-cycle, including non-power reactors.

Centre proposes, protesters dispose

The Centre hopes to resolve the stalemate at Kudankulam nuclear power plant within two months after which the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd can start working towards operationalising the first of the two 1000 MW units, reports DHNS from New Delhi. “We expect normalisation in KKNPP in four-six weeks after which we need four months to start operations,” NPCIL chairman and managing director S K Jain said.

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