A deal brokered by US and Indian heads of state Barack Obama and Narendra Modi will see Westinghouse build six nuclear reactors in India.

A White House meeting also saw agreement between the two powers to push for the ratification of the international climate-change agreement reached in Paris in December.

Under the nuclear power agreement, Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Westinghouse Electric Co., a US unit of Toshiba, will begin engineering and site-design work for the reactors, though the final contract won’t be completed until June 2017, White House officials said. The deal marked a significant step in resolving obstacles to the sale of nuclear reactors and fuel to India.
Modi and Obama
A 2010 law passed in India that would make US firms liable for accidents at power plants they help build, had presented a significant obstacle to development of nuclear in the country but Courtney Boone, a spokeswoman for Westinghouse Electric, said progress was being made in that regard.

“The leaders clearly understand that the parties are working diligently toward an agreement and they’re clearly supportive of an agreement in the near term. Westinghouse wants to be able to provide the government of India clean, reliable energy for its people.”

Preparatory work on-site in India for six AP 1000 reactors is set to commence shortly with India and the US Export-Import Bank working together toward a competitive financing package for the project.

In a statement, they said that India would “work toward the shared objective” of trying to ratify the Paris agreement before the end of the year. Given that the deal will only come into effect once 55 countries — which account for 55 per cent of global emissions — have completed ratification, Indian backing would be an important landmark for the Paris accord.

According to the World Resources Institute, India accounted for 6.96 per cent of global emissions and the US 14.4 per cent in 2012.

The White House is keen to reach that level before Mr Obama’s term runs out, not just to cement the agreement as part of its legacy but also to make it harder for a future American president to unwind the accord.

“I think we are better positioned than we ever have been to reach the goal of 55 per cent of emissions and 55 countries by the end of this year, and I think this statement should provide significant additional momentum toward this global push,” said Brian Deese, a White House adviser on energy and climate change.