After 9 months of negotiations, the United States and India have reached an agreement on reprocessing U.S.-obligated nuclear material, eliminating a major obstacle to finalizing a historic atomic energy pact. The new agreement reflects a deepening relationship between the U.S. and India. The 2008 U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement, also called the One-Two-Three Agreement, permits exports to India of U.S. nuclear material and equipment. The new agreement means that India will be allowed to reprocess U.S.-obligated spent nuclear fuel in its own reprocessing plants. Recovered nuclear material will be available for civilian energy production. The overall process will be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The 1-2-3 Agreement, and this related reprocessing agreement, was indeed a great break-through for India. Since 1974, following India’s test of a nuclear device, India had been banned from access to nuclear technology and fuel by nuclear supplier nations.
As a country that suffers from chronic energy shortages, India must drastically increase its energy supplies in order to maintain its rapid economic expansion. Thus, finalization of one of the follow-up items under the 1-2-3 Agreement is vitally important to India's future economic success. Now the end is in sight.
"We think that the 1-2-3 Agreement is in the interest of both the United States [and] India, and has broader impact as well. It was an agreement that required some follow-up, some detail,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. The new reprocessing agreement still has to be submitted to our Congress for review. Likewise, the Indian Government has had issues to work through. Crowley also said that seeing an agreement begin to be implemented develops trust and confidence on both sides.
In a written statement, U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer said, "This important step is part of the great, win-win narrative of the U.S.-India global partnership, affirming the commitment of our two countries to realize the full potential of our landmark civil nuclear agreement. These arrangements will help open the door for U.S. firms in India's rapidly expanding energy sector, creating thousands of jobs for the citizens of both our countries.
"We applaud India's outstanding track record on nonproliferation issues, and we look forward to our continuing cooperation in this area."