Keynote Address at 2nd Indo-U.S. Nuclear Energy Safety Summit

Geoffrey Pyatt
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Mumbai, India
October 11, 2012

It is an immense pleasure and personal honor to return once again to speak to such a prestigious audience from the fields of science, and innovation, along with distinguished U.S. and Indian government officials.

I’d like to pay special thanks to the India Section of American Nuclear Society for holding this very important gathering. This 2nd Indo-U.S. Nuclear Safety Summit comes at a crucial juncture in our exceptional bilateral civil-nuclear cooperation, and I would especially like to thank NuScale, as one of the key organizers of the event.

It is hard to believe that it has been over seven years since the joint statement in which President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Singh shared a vision for cooperation on civilian nuclear energy that many of us have worked diligently since then to fulfill. And what a period it has been. It is impossible to speak about the future of our civil-nuclear cooperation, without first recalling the extraordinary growth and progress our two nations have shared, together, in working together to meet the demands of this century.

In that vein, I would like to take this opportunity today to discuss where we are on U.S.-India civil-nuclear cooperation. Specifically, I’d like to 1) offer my take of the strategic logic that underlies our civil-nuclear cooperation; 2) provide a review of how we got here; and 3) lay out my vision for where this partnership will take us. Along the way I’ll say a few words about the robust future we see for nuclear power in the Unites States.

The Strategic Logic Behind U.S.-India Civil-Nuclear Cooperation

From together pledging to seek a world without nuclear weapons, reaching a historic civil-nuclear accord, partnering to combat climate change, and enjoying close consultation on issues as diverse as humanitarian relief and intelligence-sharing, our two nations’ relations are bound by strategic necessity. We know that we must forge new consensus, and partner to solve the great challenges that face mankind – together – to sustain the pace of the last decade. Our citizens and businesses demand it.

Our civil-nuclear cooperation was founded not only on the desire to move our strategic partnership forward to a new level, but on the premise that India needs nuclear power to sustain its rapidly growing economy in a safe, clean, and cost-effective manner. And that in turn serves the strategic interests of the United States.

The ultimate goal of the 2005 joint statement and of our rich bilateral cooperation is to fulfill that vision; to provide India access to the technology it needs to build and safely maintain a modern and efficient fleet of civilian nuclear reactors and infrastructure, enabling India to meet its growing power demands.

Especially following last year’s triple disaster in Japan, it is natural that questions have been asked in India, as in the U.S., about the safety and future prospects of the nuclear industry. But from where I sit it is clear that nuclear power will be important to supplying the energy that enables India’s growing manufacturing sector to expand; essential to lighting India’s homes and its schools; and vital to the refrigeration that keeps food fresh or air conditioning that blunts the heat of summer.

Perhaps most importantly to India’s markets, it will help to keep the country wired. Technological capacity – from predictable internet connectivity to ensuring the reliable charging of the over 700 million mobile telephones – will help India grow in ways few imagined even a couple of years ago.

The United States is also fully committed to the use of nuclear energy in our own country. At the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in March 2012, President Obama said, “With rising oil prices and a warming climate, nuclear energy will only become more important.” Indeed, it is worth noting that in the United States, communities hosting nuclear power infrastructure are some of the most supportive of nuclear power’s role as an important part of the US energy mix.

In the United States, we’ve restarted our nuclear industry as part of a comprehensive strategy to develop every energy source. We continue to pursue a variety of technologies that will help us build the next generation of reactors that are smaller, safer, cleaner and cheaper.

As Commissioned Svinicki from our Nuclear Regulatory Commission can confirm, nuclear power plants in the United States were originally licensed to operate for 40 years; 73 reactors have received 20-year license extensions from the NRC that allow for a total of 60-years of operation; an additional 30 have applied for license extension and/or publicly announced the intent to do so.

· Since 1977, 6,546 MWe of capacity updates have been approved by NRC, with an additional 2911.6 MWe expected to be approved by 2016. These updates represent a significant increase in capacity, even without new build. Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle Units 3 and 4 and South Carolina Electric and Gas’ V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 received construction and operating licenses (COL) from the NRC in 2012.

· Plants Under Construction include: Vogtle 3 and 4 (expected operation 2016/2017); Summer 2 and 3 (expected operation 2017/2018), and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 (expected operation 2015). Additionally, the NRC has certified 2 designs (ABWR, AP 1000); three new designs (APWR, EPR, and ESBWR) are currently being reviewed.

The clear commitment of our two countries to the use of nuclear energy to power our cities and our economies makes us natural partners for commercial and scientific cooperation. However, this cooperation is not only about powering computers and cell phones.

This is about transforming the strategic relationship between our two countries by working together to advance a major international initiative, allowing us to forge the indispensible partnership that President Obama reaffirmed during his visit to India in 2010.

Already, the strategic dividends from the nuclear deal are visible in the comprehensive U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, and helped us to create a relationship far beyond a perfunctory engagement between two great powers. Our civil-nuclear agreement was the catalyst that enabled us to get to where we are today.

A Short Background of the Civil-Nuclear Deal

I’d like to now pivot, and provide a short précis of how the U.S.-India Civil-nuclear Deal came to be. The landmark effort of our civil-nuclear agreement required significant and profound changes to U.S. and global nonproliferation policies. American diplomats and lawmakers have worked diligently to make the necessary changes domestically and internationally that helped pave the way for this cooperation to move ahead.

First, in 2006, our Congress passed the U.S.-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, which exempted this cooperation from certain requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Next, we worked with our partners in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to reach consensus on a waiver for civilian nuclear exports to India in 2008.

Finally, we were able to negotiate, sign, and pass through Congress the U.S.-India 123 Agreement. Each of these steps required tremendous political capital, as well as the persistence, patience, and hard work of our diplomats and lawmakers who spent countless hours at negotiating tables in Washington, New Delhi, Vienna and capitals around the world.

But none of our efforts would have been possible without India’s agreement to implement a series of enhanced nonproliferation commitments.

In so doing, India agreed to assume the same responsibilities and practices as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology. Specifically:

· First, India agreed to draw a clear line between its civilian and military nuclear facilities, and to voluntarily place its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. In 2006, India identified 14 thermal power reactors, and well as a number of upstream and downstream facilities, and nine research facilities, to be designated as civilian under India’s Separation Plan.

· Next, India filed its declaration with the IAEA regarding these civilian facilities, and to demonstrate that the facilities would not in any way contribute to India’s strategic program, India further agreed to sign and adhere to an Additional Protocol applicable to those facilities.

· Then, to help ensure that Indian companies comply with India’s international commitments to not transfer sensitive technologies to countries of concern, India harmonized its national export controls in 2007 with the control lists and guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

· Finally, India committed to maintain its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, and agreed to work with the U.S. to conclude a multilateral, verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty to irreversibly reduce the amount of fissile material available for nuclear weapons.

These commitments brought India’s domestic system into closer conformity with international nonproliferation standards, and implementation of these practices demonstrates India’s commitment to preventing proliferation from its civil nuclear program.

Where We Stand Today – And Where We Are Going Tomorrow

Working together as strategic partners, the foundation was laid for the 2010 joint statement between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh where the United States agreed to further expand high technology cooperation and trade, and India committed – among other things – to ensure a level playing-field for U.S. companies seeking to enter the Indian nuclear energy sector.

The United States has moved quickly to fulfill our commitments to India.

Within a matter of months, our Department of Commerce removed nine Indian entities from its “entities list.” Based on India’s commitment to adopt Wassenaar Arrangement controls, we decided to proactively relax our licensing policies on a broad range of dual-use military equipment under the Strategic Trade Authorization regulation, which was finalized last summer. And our diplomats have again been hard at work over the last two years working with members of the four multilateral export control regimes to support India’s bid for full membership.

However, as many of the companies here today will affirm, unease persists about the current playing field in the Indian nuclear energy sector. This is not insurmountable, and in fact, through engagement with the IAEA, we feel that any concerns could be addressed and mitigated in a way that brings India into the mainstream of international civil nuclear commerce.

One lesson our bilateral civil-nuclear cooperation has taught all of us is that by working together our two countries can tackle even the toughest of problems. As Secretary Clinton said in Chennai in 2011, “if we redouble our efforts, we are poised to go even further in our civil-nuclear cooperation. And the commercial opportunities in India’s nuclear energy market continue to grow every day.”

As everyone in this audience is aware, India has the third largest number of reactors under construction in the world. Coupled with heavy investment in infrastructure, and an increasing reliance on private enterprise, there are vast commercial opportunities in virtually every segment of the Indian nuclear energy market. We were delighted by news this spring that both Westinghouse and General Electric were making headway in their negotiations with NPCIL.

These aren’t far-fetched opportunities, reserved for a privileged few. The development of India’s power sector translates into collective benefit: it means that education will be transformed through reliable electricity to power computers and smart phones; transportation will be revolutionized through the use of hybrid vehicles and light-rail trains; and commercial opportunities will emerge for the Indian middle class – like never before – rewarding anyone with a good idea and entrepreneurial zeal, not just those who have access to the complex power generators in Gurgaon or HiTec City, where multinational firms have the benefit of supplying their own power. The playing field will be effectively leveled.

While India can now select from a wide choice of international suppliers to supplement its indigenous efforts, I assure you that American technology and American companies are the best the world has to offer:

· For starters, the U.S. has over 50 years’ experience operating and maintaining the largest fleet of nuclear energy reactors anywhere in the world at world-class levels of safety, efficiency, and reliability.

· Almost half of all nuclear power plants in the world are based on Westinghouse’s pressurized water technology, and nearly 20 percent are based on General Electric’s boiling water technology. That means more than 60 percent of the world’s reactors are based on technology developed in the United States. And every day, our firms continue to innovate, setting an ever-higher bar for next-generation nuclear energy technologies.

· And we are open for business. In fact, U.S. companies representing the full spectrum of commercial nuclear activities have participated in six commercial trade missions to India in the past few years, including:

· Behemoth engineering and construction companies such as Bechtel, CH2M Hill, Fluor, Shaw Group and URS;

· Reactor-designer vendors such as General Electric and Westinghouse, but also designers of small modular reactors;

· Specialized component suppliers such as Transco Products;

· A range of nuclear fuel producers, including converters such as Converdyn, and fuel enrichers such as USEC and GE; and finally,

· Nuclear plant operators, such as Exelon and Entergy, which offer the plant management models that yield the highest capacity factors of the world’s large reactor fleets.

As we look ahead to the future of our civil-nuclear cooperation we are additionally encouraged by our rapidly expanding science and technology cooperation. Just last year the U.S. Department of Energy and India’s Department of Atomic Energy signed an implementing agreement on “Discovery Science” that provides the framework for India’s participation in the next generation particle accelerator facility at Fermilab.

This agreement is the latest step in the deepening cooperation between the U.S. and India on a wide range of clean energy and scientific fronts, and will enable us to pursue new scientific discoveries and advance our shared clean energy goals. India’s participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor is another promising area for advanced technical collaboration in nuclear energy.

This cooperation is broad-based, and is rapidly expanding. The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, along with its U.S. counterpart the India Science and Technology Partnership, has facilitated travel for nearly 10,000 scientists between the United States and India, established 24 joint research centers and organized more than 30 training programs and 150 bilateral conferences, two-thirds of which have resulted in long-term partnerships.

The Indo-U.S. Civil-nuclear Energy Working Group, co-chaired by India’s Department of Atomic Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy, has developed an Action Plan and will focus on cooperation on both High Temperature Gas Reactors and Nuclear Safety in the coming year. We continue to actively explore opportunities for further cooperation.

We intend to redouble our efforts to expand scientific collaboration in this important area to build on these successes. And just as our scientists work side by side bringing us ever closer to solutions to global energy problems, we also look forward to seeing U.S. and Indian companies working together in the near future bringing innovative technology to India’s nuclear energy market.

Finally, we welcomed the Indian government’s announcement of two nuclear power reactor sites for U.S. firms in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, and we believe that Secretary Clinton’s vision of the day when the “computers of a school in Gujarat are powered by a reactor designed in America” will not only mark the successful completion of our six-year civil-nuclear cooperation effort, but will be the first page of a new and promising chapter in our relationship.


Ladies and gentlemen I know – from first-hand experience – that crafting and implementing a civil-nuclear agreement is a long and complex endeavor. Yet we did it, and we’re continuing to do it. It has been an evolving process that ultimately will allow our citizens from both countries to thrive and prosper throughout the 21st century. We persevered, worked together, and accomplished what we set forth to do. Now we must implement it.

Political and domestic challenges often garner press headlines, but it is important to remember that this relationship has survived changes of the political landscape in both countries. No matter what domestic political machinations occur, both governments are fully committed to realizing the potential of our relationship.

And, while governments may lack the flair and flexibility of their private sector brethren, they provide the ballast for a multi-faceted strategic partnership between two great democracies – a partnership that will help to ensure the peace and prosperity of, literally, billions of people. The future of the U.S-India partnership has never been brighter: driven by core strategic congruity, extraordinary people-to-people ties, and opportunities for historic cooperation on civil-nuclear energy, it will only grow stronger in the century that lies before us.

When our U.S.-India Civil-nuclear Deal is fully implemented, the young girl from a rural village, who dreams about her education and her future – and this very city that we find ourselves in today – will have to dream no longer. Her village will be able to provide households large and small, rich and poor with the necessary electricity for people to read, to write, to live, and to connect. She’ll learn through the use of inexpensive technologies, and she’ll no longer have doubts about whether she’ll get a chance to succeed. And she’ll make it to Mumbai.

The United States believes in her. India believes in her. Together, we’ve put a down payment – and a very sizeable one at that – on this girl’s dreams and her future. It is now time to implement the U.S.-India Civil-nuclear Agreement and make her dreams, and the dreams of every single person in this room to create safe, reliable, clean energy for the world – once thought impossible – a reality. Thank you.