NEW DELHI: The June 2017 deadline for operationalising the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation will “certainly” be missed, former National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said in Kolkata.
At the same time, Narayanan expressed optimism about things falling into place, especially with India boosting its uranium supply.
Expanding on the major issues that led to the delay, the former West Bengal Governor also said, “Two big issues were the insurance package, so to say, and there were a lot of discussions that had to be conducted and in the midst of that happened Fukushima (Japan nuclear disaster) which aggravated concerns about what will be the impact of a major nuclear disaster. So, I think that took a good amount of time (more or less from 2010 to 2013 to 2014) that is one basic issue with deadlines being missed.”
Narayanan had played a significant role in the negotiation of the landmark Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement which was announced in 2008.
A joint US-India statement said India and the US Export-Import Bank were “working to complete a financing package for the project, and that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric had confirmed engineering and site design work would begin immediately.”
However, the implementation of the pact has been held up further with Westinghouse Electric running into financial troubles.
“Then of course you run into the problem that the company Westinghouse has run into major problems so as a result, what I would say, at one level (not due to non-performance from our side), more due to other factors, administrative (and other factors across the world) we have had to delay the thing. Hopefully, things will come around,” Narayanan said.
The former Intelligence Bureau chief also highlighted that India has shored up its uranium supplies.
“One of the major drawbacks that would have happened… would have been if we didn’t get enough uranium. That is one of our major short supply but that is being assured now… Australia and Canada have agreed to supply us uranium so I think our supplies are assured.”
However, he said, “You have to get over some of the administrative and related matters so it will be delayed (nobody can say for how long) but I am optimistic. It is quite an extraordinary deal.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of an international energy conference organised by The Neotia University.