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US to send nuclear mission to India

India, US plan Arabian Sea war games
The US navy's nuclear-powered super-carrier USS Ronald Reagan will sail into the Arabian Sea on Saturday for war games with India as part of warming ties between the two sides, officials said Thursday. A nuclear submarine and five other warships from the US Navy's Seventh Fleet will join the annual drills codenamed Malabar 08 off the western Indian resort of Goa, Indian navy spokesman Nirad Sinha said. "Naval cooperation between India and the United States epitomises the relationship between two large and responsible maritime powers," he said, without saying how long the games would last. Fighter jets from the two sides will also join the mock combat drills, which officials from both sides said would be an exercise in "complex manoeuvres." The exercises mark the first time that the USS Ronald Reagan will operate in Indian waters. The announcement of the drills comes less than a week after the United States and India signed a pact to open up sales of civilian nuclear technology to New Delhi for the first time in three decades. The signature of the deal caps a three-year political rollercoaster in both countries for an agreement that lifts a ban on US-Indian civilian nuclear trade imposed after New Delhi's first nuclear test in 1974. The Malabar series is another signal of the new cordial relationship between the two countries, which were on opposite sides during the Cold War. The rapprochement has been keenly opposed by India's communists who see them as undermining New Delhi's traditional non-aligned foreign policy.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 15, 2008
The United States said Wednesday it would send a mission to India in December to explore business opportunities following a landmark pact to open up sales of civilian nuclear technology to the country.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee signed the agreement last week that lifted a three-decade ban on US-Indian civilian nuclear trade imposed after India's first nuclear test in 1974.

"I'm pleased to announce that the Commerce Department has certified the US-India Business Council for a civil nuclear trade mission to India this coming December," US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrrez said.

Council President Ron Somers has projected 150 billion dollars worth of business between US and Indian companies over the next 30 years following the deal, which offers India access to US technology and cheap atomic energy in return for allowing UN inspections of some of its civilian nuclear facilities.

US-India bilateral trade in 2007 was nearly 42 billion dollars, up 55 percent from 2005, Gutierrez said at a council meeting Wednesday aimed at tapping business opportunities in India's "clean energy" market.

The council is a key business advocacy group representing 280 of the largest US companies investing in India.

Gutierrez said that while US companies were eager to contribute to India's developing nuclear power sector, they required nuclear liability protection in order to do business.

"India must draft and ratify a domestic law" consistent with the international Convention of Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, he said.

India last month wrote a letter of intent to sign up to the convention, which US businesses want in order to reduce their liability in the event of a catastrophe.

Gutierrez said India had the potential to be one of the world's largest clean energy markets as it was projected to overtake China and have the world's largest population in about two decades.

India will need to expand its primary energy supply by at least three times and its electricity supply by five times its current consumption to sustain economic growth, he said.

"Clean energy technologies have moved to the forefront of India's energy infrastructure and investment opportunities," he said.

"Increased use of these technologies will help address environmental problems and growing demand for fossil fuels," he added.

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Nuclear test ban commission hopes to persuade waverers
Vienna (AFP) Oct 9, 2008
The success of an exercise to verify nuclear weapons testing may persuade hold-out countries including the United States to join the world test ban treaty, the organisers said Thursday.

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