US, India see progress with nuclear deal
US: The United States and India sought Wednesday to dispel
doubts over their relationship as a US company signed a deal on nuclear
power, long a source of disappointment between the countries.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who once called US affection for
India an "affair of the heart," said that the world's two largest
democracies had entered a "new and more mature phase" in their
"With respect to affairs of the heart, they usually have ups and
downs, but that does not make them any less heartfelt or any less of a
commitment," Clinton said as she held annual talks with India.
"There is less need today for the dramatic breakthroughs that marked
earlier phases, but more need for steady, focused cooperation," Clinton
said as she met with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and other
But the deal that was arguably the most dramatic of the past
breakthroughs between India and the United States -- a 2008 agreement on
nuclear power -- has increasingly been cited as proof that the US-India
relationship has not lived up to its potential.
On Wednesday, US-based Westinghouse Electric Co. announced that it
was signing a preliminary deal with the state-run Nuclear Power Co. of
India to build the first US nuclear reactors in the South Asian nation.
Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp., said that it had
agreed to conduct initial licensing and site development work to build
reactors at the Mithivirdi site in the western state of Gujarat.
Clinton called the agreement "a significant step toward the
fulfillment" of the landmark US-India nuclear agreement, but
acknowledged that the deal was preliminary and there was "still a lot of
work to be done."
Krishna, speaking later at a solo news conference, said the
Westinghouse agreement carried "special importance" in light of the
concerns expressed earlier by US businesses. The deal "opens up new
vistas of opportunities for business in the United States," Krishna
Former president George W. Bush spearheaded the 2008 deal, which
recognized India's global stature by giving it access to civilian
nuclear technology after decades of being treated as a pariah for
building nuclear weapons.
But US companies have been reluctant to get to work in India as they
are seeking greater protection from liabilities in the event of a
nuclear disaster -- a dispute that could still potentially affect the
The United States argues that other countries such as Russia and
France enjoy an unfair advantage as their nuclear companies have the
backing of the state which can handle liabilities.
The issue is sensitive in India, where thousands died in 1984 in a
leak from a US-owned pesticide factory in Bhopal.
India has pledged to move ahead with nuclear power to support its
growing economy and reduce the need for oil imports and dirty coal,
despite rising global concerns about atomic energy since Japan's
Fukushima disaster. AFP