Obama Seeks Nuclear Assurances from India on Asian Trip

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Photo by rowens27/FlickrNov. 16 – U.S. President Barack Obama, visiting Asia for the first time in his presidency, has sought “assurances” from India on nuclear non-proliferation to take forward Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear trade.

The Indian “assurance” is now being considered as a “proximate obstacle” to Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear trade as Americans in knowledge of the talks on this critical issue have metaphorically termed New Delhi’s response as “India is not picking up the phone.”

In the absence of such an “assurance” letter from India, the Indian government has been informed that the U.S. Department of Energy would not be able to issue the mandatory license, called Part 8-10, to American companies doing any kind of civilian nuclear trade with the country.

Part 8-10 refers to the process set out in Code Ten of Federal Regulations Part 8-10. Under section 57 B of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954, only the Secretary of Energy is authorized to give permission, directly or indirectly, to persons or companies in the production of special nuclear material outside the United States. This provision applies to technology transfers and technical assistance to all activities of the nuclear fuel-cycle, including non-power reactors, and until India complies it will not be able to participate in U.S. trade in nuclear materials or know-how.