Robert Blake allays fears over G-8 declaration on transfer of atomic technology

‘We’ll start bilateral cooperation with the announcement of two nuclear sites’

Washington: Allaying fears in India over the recent G-8 declaration regarding restriction on transfer of atomic technology to non-NPT States, the U.S. on Thursday said it was “fully committed”’ to the nuclear deal with New Delhi and hopes to sign the end-use monitoring agreement on Monday.

“We hope to be able to sign that [end-use monitoring agreement], and obviously, that will take place on Monday of next week,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told reporters here on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India beginning on Friday. “I do not think there should be any apprehensions about the future of the civil nuclear agreement,” Mr. Blake told reporters.

“The [U.S.] Secretary and the President are fully committed to that agreement. I think the Indians are also fully committed,” he said.

Reprocessing talks

“They [India] are going to be, I am sure, moving forward to file a declaration of safeguarded facilities with the IAEA, which is sort of the next step in that process, and then we’re going to start reprocessing talks, probably either later this month or in August,” Mr. Blake said.

“So all of that is very much on track. As I say, we’ll also be starting some bilateral cooperation with — hopefully with the announcement of these two nuclear sites. So I would discourage any talk that somehow the agreement is off track,” Mr. Blake said.

He said the U.S. hopes to get commitment from India for two nuclear park sites for American companies during Ms. Clinton’s visit.

“On the question of the two nuclear sites, we hope that we will be in a position to be able to announce publicly those two sites where U.S. companies can have exclusive right to locate reactors and sell reactors to the Indians,” he said, amid reports that India has identified the two sites in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

‘Major opportunity’

“We think that that’s a major opportunity for American companies. It opens up as much as $10 billion worth of new exports to India. So again, we hope to be in a position for both sides to announce it,” Mr. Blake said.

“The agreement would be with her [Ms. Clinton’s] counterpart, Foreign Minister (S.M.) Krishna. The end use monitoring is the only one that is on the table for the moment,” he said.

He said the purpose of Ms. Clinton’s visit to India is to strengthen and broaden the strategic partnership between the two sides. — PTI

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