India and the U.S. launched a new Energy Dialogue in May 2005 aimed at increased trade and investment in the energy sector. The co-Chairs of this mechanism are Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, and Planning Commission on the Indian side and Mr. Samuel Bodman, Energy Secretary on the U.S. side.
A Steering Committee has also been formed to supervise the work of the Group headed by India’s Foreign Secretary and the US under Secretary for Energy Efficiency. Five working groups have been formed covering the areas of: (a) oil and natural gas (b) electric power (c) coal (d) energy efficiency, renewable energy and new technologies (e) civil nuclear power.
The working groups have finalized their terms of reference and are now moving to achieve their goals which include, strengthening mutual energy security and promoting stable energy markets; advancing understanding of efficient generation, transmission, distribution and use of electricity; developing and deploying clean energy technologies and energy conservation practices; dialogue and action on issues associated with civilian uses of nuclear energy.
Energy Secretary Bodman visited India in March 2007. He had meeting with PM and several of our Cabinet Ministers. During Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Washington D.C. July 2005, President Bush told the Prime Minister that he will work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realizes its goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security.
Appreciating India’s strong commitment to preventing WMD proliferation and as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, President Bush felt that India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states. He said he would seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies, and the U.S. would work with friends and allies to adjust international regimes to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India.
Prime Minister Singh in turn conveyed that India would reciprocally agree that it would be ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices and acquire the same benefits and advantages as other leading countries with advanced nuclear technology, such as the United States.
The leaders agreed to establish a working group to undertake on a phased basis the necessary actions to fulfill these commitments. The working group is co- chaired by the Foreign Secretary of India and the US under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The co- chairs are in regular, direct contact.
When President Bush visited India in early March 2006, the two governments announced the successful completion of discussions on India’s plan to separate its civilian nuclear programme from its military program. The passage of the Henry J. Hyde Act and its signature into law by President Bush on December 18, 2006 was another landmark in this process.
The two sides have also completed negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement (the so-called 123 Agreement), which will be signed soon. Further steps include the conclusion of an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA following which the 45-nation Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) will be requested to change its guidelines to permit such cooperation with India. Thereafter the bilateral 123 Agreement will have to be presented to the U.S. Congress for an up-or-down vote.
India has been invited to join the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project as a full partner. This decision was taken in December 2005 at the ITER negotiations meeting at Jeju, South Korea. The U.S. strongly supported India’s application. ITER is the experimental step between the latest studies in plasma physics and future electricity producing fusion power plants.