http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Deal-inked-with-US--India-can-reprocess-spent-n-fuel/654428 Clearing one of the last hurdles in the operationalisation of the landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries, India and the United States have formalised an understanding that will allow New Delhi to reprocess American nuclear fuel after having used it in its nuclear power plants. The reprocessing agreement has been signed by Indiaâ€™s ambassador in Washington Meera Shankar and United States Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns on Friday evening, a US government statement said. Reprocessing involves the separation of plutonium from the spent fuel, to be re-used in other reactors. Since plutonium can also be used as the fissile core in a nuclear weapon, access to reprocessing technology or the right to do so is generally not forthcoming. So far, the US has granted such reprocessing right only to the European Union and Japan. The agreement envisages setting up of separate and dedicated reprocessing facilities in India for this purpose. Both these facilities as well as the reprocessed fuel will be have to be designated to be used only for civilian purposes and kept open for international scrutiny according to the provisions of the safeguards agreement India signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Though India cannot use plutonium generated through the reprocessing of spent uranium fuel for military use, access to this plutonium would enable it to divert more of its domestically produced plutonium for the strategic programme. â€œWith this we have taken another significant step forward in the implementation of our bilateral agreement for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy,â€ Meera Shankar said after signing the agreement. With the reprocessing agreement out of the way, the last remaining hurdle in the participation of US companies in Indiaâ€™s nuclear power market is the civil nuclear liability legislation that New Delhi is still to enact. The Indian government is likely to seek Parliamentâ€™s approval for the liability legislation under preparation, in the current session itself. India has already designated two sites, one each in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, to be developed as nuclear parks in collaboration with the United States. â€œThe Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative has facilitated significant new commercial opportunities across Indiaâ€™s multi-billion dollar nuclear energy market, including the designation of two nuclear reactor park sites for US technology in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat,â€ the US government statement said. â€œIncreased civil nuclear trade with India will create thousands of new jobs for the US economy while helping India to meet its rising energy needs in an environmentally responsible way by reducing the growth of carbon emissions,â€ it said.