India and the US today broke the 7-year-old logjam in operationalising their landmark civil nuclear deal besides deciding to jointly produce military hardware including advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama.
In what Obama called a “breakthrough”, the two sides resolved key hurdles pertaining to the liability of suppliers of nuclear reactors in the event of an accident and the tracking of fuel supplied by the US.
“We have broken the logjam of the past few years. We have reached an agreement. The deal is done,” Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh announced after extended discussions between Obama and Modi lasting more than three hours, marked by great bonhomie.
The two countries renewed an enhanced Defence Framework Agreement for the next ten years and identified four key “pathfinder projects” for joint development and production including the next generation Raven mini UAVs and specialised kits for C-130 military transport aircraft.
Both countries also agreed on a Working Group to explore aircraft carrier technology besides designing and development of jet engine technology.
The warm relationship between Modi and Obama, meeting for the second time in four months, was on full display when they had a long stroll in the lawns of Hyderabad House where the Indian leader personally served tea to his guest while they were seated in the open.
Modi good-humouredly refused later to disclose as to what they talked about. “Parde main rehne do (let it remain a secret),” he told reporters.
The nuclear deal was the centrepiece of Obama-Modi discussions given its contentious nature and both sides later declared that the hurdles in the implementation of the 2005 agreement have been resolved.
After the talks, the US said the understanding on the civil nuclear programme resolves the US concerns on both tracking and liability.
“In our judgement, the Indians have moved sufficiently on these issues to give us assurances,” US Ambassador to India Richard Verma told American journalists.
He said it will still be for the US companies to assess the market and decide whether to partake in India’s nuclear programme. Neither country needed to take legislative action to complete the agreements reached between the two leaders.