Talks on reprocessing nuclear fuel completed

“Negotiations on these arrangements and procedures commenced in July 2009 and have been concluded with the last round of negotiations held in New Delhi during March 2-4, 2010,” according to a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Atomic Energy. Reprocessing rights remained one of the unfinished agenda that needed to be completed before nuclear commerce between the two countries can began. Having India’s own nuclear liability legislation in place is another pre-requisite.

Reprocessing means extracting useful and fissionable new material from the nuclear fuel after they are spent in the reactors. It is an area of strategic importance as uranium fuel can be reprocessed to extract plutonium that has military as well as civilian use. Since it would be conducted under IAEA safeguards, the reprocessed nuclear material could only be used for power generation.

The statements said both countries rounded up the negotiations on the “arrangements and procedures” for reprocessing US-obligated spent nuclear fuel in line with the Indo-US 123 agreement on civil nuclear cooperation. “This important step is part of the great, win-win narrative of the US-India global partnership,” said US envoyTimothy J Roemer.

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