In New Delhi earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper joined their Indian counterparts, Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, for the third U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue—a yearly confab focused on strengthening the strategic relationship between the two nations. (In February of this year, the White House elevated that relationship to Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership status.)
The first 2+2 dialogue took place in New Delhi in September 2018, with a second held in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Washington is scheduled to host the fourth such meeting next year.
Atomic topics: At the meeting, Pompeo et al. discussed increasing U.S.-India collaboration on a range of issues, such as defense, space, health, infrastructure development financing, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, and nuclear energy.
In an October 27 joint statement on the meeting, the U.S. and Indian governments announced a reaffirmation of American support for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as an extension of the memorandum of understanding concerning cooperation with the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP)—a research and development institute under the aegis of India’s Department of Atomic Energy. According to the GCNEP website, the center’s mission is to conduct research, design, and development of nuclear systems that are intrinsically safe, secure, proliferation resistant, and sustainable; to organize training, seminars, lectures, and workshops on topical issues by Indian and international experts in order to develop a pool of trained human resources; and to promote global nuclear energy partnerships through collaborative research and training programs.
The joint statement also expressed optimism that a “techno-commercial offer” would be forthcoming in negotiations between Westinghouse and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Kovvada.
Currently, NPCIL has operating reactors at seven Indian nuclear power plants: Four pressurized heavy-water reactors at Kaiga, two PHWRs and one PHWR-700 that achieved initial criticality in July at Kakrapar, two pressurized water reactors at Kudankulam, two PHWRs at Madras, two PHWRs at Narora, six PHWRs at Rajasthan, and two boiling water reactors and two PHWRs at Tarapur. NPCIL is also building additional units at Kakrapar (one PHWR-700), Kudankulam (four PWRs), and Rajasthan (two PHWRs). Plus, the company is planning two PHWRs at the Gorakhpur site.