The United States will support India’s continued exemption from global nuclear trade rules despite moves to tighten up restrictions, the US ambassador to India said on Thursday.
Last week the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which governs global nuclear trade, decided to tighten guidelines for transfers of sensitive uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology.
India, which has a electricity deficit, has an ambitious nuclear programme and won a special exemption in 2008 from NSG rules, which was negotiated by the United States.
Countries are normally required to have signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty — which India has refused to do — and open their reactors to international scrutiny before they can buy atomic technology and uranium.
“The White House and the Obama administration strongly and vehemently support the clean waiver for India,” the outgoing US ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, told reporters on Thursday.
India is concerned that the new NSG guidelines could restrict its access to foreign technology, which will be vital if it is to expand atomic power at its targeted rate.
India’s fast-growing economy is heavily dependent on coal. Less than three percent of India’s electricity comes from nuclear power, but it hopes to raise the figure to 25 percent by 2050.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that France and Russia still intended to do business with India despite the move by the NSG, which includes the US, Russia, China, European Union countries and some others.
Companies from France, Russia, the US and Japan are competing for a slice of the $175 billion India plans to spend on nuclear reactors.