The U.S. has welcomed India’s allocation of sites for the construction of nuclear plants by U.S.-led companies. Russia has been given a site at Haripur in West Bengal, besides Koodankulam. French company Areva will start work at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. Anil Kakodkar, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, had said recently that the government would soon announce the sites.

The grant of the sites to the U.S.-led consortia at Chhayamithi Virdi in Gujarat and Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh followed an agreement between the U.S. and India for expanded cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The promise of providing business to the U.S.-led companies for production of nuclear power worth 10,000 MWe was held out by India in the run-up to ending the country’s isolation from the global civil nuclear commerce as it is not a signatory to the nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). “This important announcement [of allocation of sites] comes in welcome recognition of the trust and confidence as well as the growing partnership between our two countries. This development not only promises to deliver greater access to clean and affordable energy and electricity for all Indians, it will also produce jobs and economic opportunities for the people of both India and the U.S.,” Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer said in a statement.

India has signed civil nuclear energy pacts with seven countries, including the U.S., after the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group unanimously decided to given an exemption to Delhi. The pacts with Namibia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are intended either to source uranium or look for construction opportunities for indigenously designed small nuclear plants.

The agreements with the U.S. and France seek to source technology and material for large nuclear power plants. The pact with Russia is more broad-based than with those with the U.S. and France, as it also includes an agreement to secure long-term uranium supplies. New Delhi last week signed the seventh pact with Argentina which, like India, is seeking to expand the nuclear footprint in its power sector with a limited national reserve of uranium and a long-record of nuclear research.

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