India may export N-reactors soon: US report

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 09:55

Washington: India could soon join a select
group of countries like US, China and France which export
nuclear reactors, a Congressional report has said.

"Only Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea,
and the United States export nuclear reactors. India may join
this group in the near term," the Congressional Research
Service (CRS) said in its latest report `Nuclear Energy
Cooperation with Foreign Countries Issue for Congress.`

CRS is the independent and bipartisan research wing of
the US Congress, which prepares periodic report on issues of
interest to the lawmakers.

According to World Nuclear Association, India is offering
its indigenous 220 and 540 megawatt heavy water reactor
designs for export, although no specific customers have been
identified.

The CRS report said only a limited number of countries
conduct commercial enrichment and reprocessing of fissile
materials and can supply this technology.

At present, supplier states are not planning any
transfers of enrichment or reprocessing technology. The
Nuclear Suppliers Group recently added criteria to its
guidelines for the supply of fuel cycle technologies.

"Commercial reprocessing is now being done in France, the
United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, and India."

China has a pilot plant and is "considering a large-scale
facility... South Korea is pursuing a research and development
program on pyro-processing," the report said.

"Some countries with few natural energy resources, such
as Japan, argue that they want to reprocess their spent fuel
to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources. Reprocessing
proponents in those countries prefer a closed fuel cycle, in
which spent nuclear fuel from reactors is used to make fuel
for other reactors; opponents raise questions about
proliferation risks and high economic costs," it said.

US nuclear cooperation agreements with foreign countries
are also designed to help promote growth in the American
nuclear industry by facilitating US nuclear exports.

US exports of nuclear plant components, equipment, fuel,
and technology have held steady at modest levels since the
mid-1990s and comprise a decreasing share of the global
market, it said. Such exports require nuclear cooperation
agreements.

"That downward trend could be altered by new,
higher-efficiency uranium enrichment plants currently planned
in the United States and by new US contracts to supply reactor
technology and components in China and elsewhere," it said.

"Recent plans for nuclear power expansion around the
world, particularly in China and India, could lead to future
growth in US nuclear reactor exports. A consortium led by
Westinghouse signed a contract with Chinese nuclear firms on
July 24, 2007, to supply four AP1000 reactors? Westinghouse?s
newest design at a cost estimated at $8 billion," the report
said, adding that India has announced plans for up to 12 US
nuclear reactors at two sites, although no contract has been
signed.

The CRS said France and Russia are discussing with India
means of resolving their concerns about that country’s
liability law, which was adopted in August 2010 and, according
to many observers, is inconsistent with the CSC.

However, according to a Nuclear Energy Agency analysis,
Russian and French companies could, in the event of a nuclear
accident, still be less exposed to lawsuits than US companies
because Moscow and Paris would be in a "more powerful position
to negotiate a settlement with the Indian government than a
private supplier may be."

Additionally, suppliers are more likely to be subject to
class action lawsuits in the United States than would
suppliers in Russia or France, the CRS argued.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 09:55

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