The chief executive of Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric said that he expects to sign a deal to build six nuclear reactors in India in June 2016. He said, “It may take until early June, which is the next time that there’s going to be a government-to-government meeting with India.” This would qualify as the first commercial nuclear deal with India, since the US signed an agreement with India in 2008. The negotiations have been going on for a decade. It is worth wondering why the negotiations took so long.
“We have submitted everything that we need to India and they have reviewed it and they are in the process now of finalizing the paperwork,” Roderick said. He did not say how much the deal would be worth, or the price per unit of electricity, but said India had judged Westinghouse to be a “competitive energy source provider” and this would take the contract to the next stage. Roderick said Westinghouse was still working on the details of the nuclear operator liability issue, but that progress has been made.
“We are certainly comfortable enough to go to the next step from where we are right now, and if India continues to deliver on its milestones for the insurance program, then that should satisfy what Westinghouse needs,” he said.
India wants to drastically increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 megawatts (MW) by 2032, from 5,780 MW, as part of a broader push to move away from fossil fuels, cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the dangerous effects of climate change. Not a signatory to the NPT, India was treated as a pariah in the nuclear trade until the US signed an agreement with India in 2008.
Hopes of a spinoff of billions of dollars of mullah were dashed in the US when NPCIL was given powers to seek damages from suppliers in case of an accident. The compensation issue did not go down well with suppliers of nuclear equipment. Thereafter, the Indians have managed some damage control with a complicated insurance arrangement. But suppliers are treading cautiously, and not surprisingly.
Roderick said he had been working on the agreement since 2005 and it was the longest negotiation he had ever been involved in.”Most of our teams have finished and we’ve got all the paperwork in, so the next thing we will be waiting for is just the government approvals to move to the signature phase,” he said.