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India and US agree on nuclear fuel reprocessing.

INDIA and the US have moved a step closer towards realising the civilian nuclear deal.

On Monday, both the governments finalised negotiations on arrangements and procedures for reprocessing US- supplied spent nuclear fuel.

Negotiations had started in July last year and concluded during the last round of meetings held in Delhi from March 2 to 4.

Washington wanted New Delhi to carry out nuclear reprocessing under the watchful eyes of international observers so that India does not divert US- supplied nuclear fuel to its military programme.

" India and the US have taken an important step towards implementing the civil nuclear cooperation agreement by completing negotiations on arrangements and procedures for reprocessing US- obligated spent nuclear fuel," the ministry of external affairs ( MEA) said in a statement.

The announcement was made simultaneously in both New Delhi and Washington. It comes two weeks ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington to attend the Global Nuclear Security Summit.

The pact on reprocessing is likely to be signed on the sidelines of the meeting.

These arrangements -- negotiated pursuant to Article 6( iii) of the 123 Agreement for cooperation between India and the US concerning peaceful use of nuclear energy -- would enable India to reprocess US- supplied nuclear material under the IAEA safeguards, the MEA said.

The arrangements would facilitate participation of US firms in India's civil nuclear sector, the US state department said.

US ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said: " This important step is part of the great, win- win narrative of the USIndia global partnership, affirming the commitment of the two countries to realise the full potential of our landmark civil nuclear agreement." Roemer hoped these arrangements would help open the door for US firms in India's energy sector, creating thousands of jobs for the citizens of both countries.

Following the reprocessing pact, India has to take two more steps -- formulate a civil nuclear liability law and give an assurance on non- proliferation -- before the civil nuclear deal can become operational.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 30, 2010
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