Westinghouse to build 6 nuclear power plants in India spurring implementation of Paris climate pact
In US, Indian Premier Modi vows to improve ease of doing business
India and the US have signed an agreement to enhance cooperation on energy security, clean energy and climate change, and an MOU on cooperation in gas hydrates. In Washington on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister held extensive talks with US President Barack Obama, including climate change and nuclear energy.
A Reuters report quoted a Westinghouse Electric spokesperson as saying “negotiations continue” on building 6 nuclear reactors in India. A joint statement, after Modi-Obama talks, said India and the US Export-Import Bank were working to complete a financing package for the project.
The Indian Prime Minister also pushed for enlisting US support to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc, APEC.
A New York Times editorial argued that India has yet merited a NSG berth.
India does not meet one of the major factors for membership of the NSG – being a party to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many countries including Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, among many others, are opposed to India’s NSG ascension.
Meanwhile, the US-India joint statement issued after Modi-Obama talks does not mention the much hyped South China Sea dispute. The document does refer to “settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means”.
“The leaders reiterated the importance they attach to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and exploitation of resources as per international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means,” said the Indo-US joint statement on Tuesday.
The US has not signed the UN treaty, the UNCLOS.
A trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) statement earlier this year echoed Beijing’s position that the disputes must be resolved between “parties directly involved”.
“Russia, India and China are committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). All related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned,” the joint statement after the Russian, Chinese and Indian Foreign Ministers meet said in April in Moscow.
At the Oval Office meeting between Obama and Modi on Tuesday, the two leaders also reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.
New Delhi has vowed to join the Paris climate change deal this year, which would provide a “significant global momentum” towards implementation of the historic agreement, the White House said.
“We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible, bring the Paris Agreement into force,” Obama said.
Modi, who also addressed the US-India Business Council, stressed that the Indian government would “continue to make progress on improving the investment climate and ease of doing business”.
“We are encouraging foreign and domestic investors to set up high quality and efficient manufacturing facilities,” Modi told the audience.
On Tuesday, Amazon Inc AMZN.O Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said his company would invest an additional $3 billion in India.
Two major American business bodies earlier this year, however, voiced disappointment with what they called “the glacial pace” of market reforms in India.
In a submission to the US commerce secretary, the US National Association of Manufacturers urged Washington to press for change during Modi’s visit.
“Despite statements made by Prime Minister Modi and other senior Indian officials over the past two years, there has been limited progress in many key areas that make it challenging to do business in India,” the group wrote.
US exporters to India have frequently complained about protectionist restrictions and high tariffs. India and the US have also dragged several trade disputes to the WTO.
The United States won a ruling against India at the WTO in February after challenging the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power program. In April, Indian Minister of State for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said the government intends to file 16 cases against the US for allegedly violating WTO treaties.
Modi is set to address the US Congress on Wednesday.
US to build 6 nuclear power plants in India: WH
The United States and India have agreed to move ahead with a plan to build six nuclear reactors in India, according to the White House.
The plan was finalized during a meeting between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Tuesday.
It will be the first such construction since the two countries signed a landmark nuclear accord in 2008.
The price for the project is still under discussion, but officials said more difficult issues like liability have been worked out.
India passed a law in 2010 that would make US companies constructing nuclear power plants in the country liable for accidents.
Under the new deal, India’s Nuclear Power Corporation and Westinghouse Electric Co. of the US will begin engineering work for the reactors, though the final contract is not expected to be completed until June 2017, White House officials said.
“Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on-site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse and noted the intention of India and the US Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project,” the White House said in a statement.
“Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind,” it added.
The deal is believed to be part of Washington’s drive to boost cooperation with India as a counterbalance to China.
Obama said at the meeting that the US and India intended to “cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade and promote greater opportunities for our people.”
The meeting will be followed by a speech Wednesday by the Indian prime minister to a joint session of the US Congress, where he is expected to be greeted warmly by American lawmakers.
Modi also announced his intention to formally join the international climate-change agreement reached in Paris in December.
The inclusion of India is significant as it could guarantee that the Paris climate agreement will go into effect before the next US president takes office. India is the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the US.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for US president, has vowed to “cancel” the pact if elected.
It is Modi’s fourth visit to the US as New Delhi intends to forge closer ties with Washington before President Obama leaves office next year.
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