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Nuclear Regulatory Issues In India And The UAE

Two major international trade missions to India and the United Arab Emirates this month were opportunities for NEI and nuclear industry representatives to learn about trade-related regulatory issues, observe construction activity and pursue potential new opportunities.

Led by NEI and consortia of business leaders, these missions play an important role for U.S. suppliers of commercial nuclear technology and services seeking to do business in the burgeoning international market, valued at between $500 billion and $740 billion over the next 10 years.

Ted Jones, NEI’s director of supplier programs, said the U.S. delegation learned about India’s commitments on nuclear liability laws including the Convention on Supplementary Compensation and received updates on India’s liability law affecting nuclear suppliers and on a new arrangement to allow U.S. fuel suppliers to export enriched uranium to India.

“Our delegation was really interested to learn about the proposed solutions to remedy problems in India’s domestic liability laws,” Jones said. “For virtually every U.S. company considering exporting to India, liability is a critical threshold issue.”

India’s approval in 2010 of its Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, which failed to shield suppliers from liability risk for damages from a nuclear incident in India, has discouraged U.S. nuclear technology vendors from concluding contracts with the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd., the country’s sole operator of nuclear power plants. In January, the United States and India announced a proposed workaround of the liability law, in the form of a state-backed insurance pool that would indemnify companies doing business in India.

U.S. reactor suppliers have expressed appreciation for the bilateral efforts to resolve the impasse, while reserving judgment on whether a solution has been reached until more details are made available.Jones said the trade mission also underscored the central role the newly reauthorized U.S. Export-Import  EXIM  Bank plays in sustaining exports.

“Our meetings here in India make clear that without EXIM Bank, India would turn to non-U.S. suppliers—and not just in the nuclear sector,” he said. The trade delegation was a joint project of NEI and the U.S.-India Business Council.

On to the United Arab Emirates

The trade delegation to the United Arab Emirates—joined by a 10-member group of state lawmakers from the National Conference of State Legislatures—learned about the potential opportunities available to U.S. suppliers at the Barakah site, where four South Korean reactors are being built. The delegation received a tour of the site and learned about plans for another four reactors there.

The U.A.E.’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) shared details about its license application review of the first two reactors at the Barakah site and other insights with the trade delegation.“As I live and work in a U.S. state with nuclear power, I am very impressed by FANR’s efforts to establish world-class nuclear regulations to ensure the safety and security of the U.A.E.’s nuclear energy program,” said Tim Moore, speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives.When completed, the four reactors at Barakah will have a combined generating capacity of approximately 5,600 megawatts and supply nearly one-quarter of the U.A.E.’s electricity demand.The mission was jointly organized by NEI and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business council.