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US optimistic about nuclear liability law

The US on Monday said it was "optimistic" that issues relating to the civil nuclear liability bill, which has remained stuck due to political opposition in India, would be resolved soon.

delhi Updated: Apr 19, 2010 19:42 IST

The US on Monday said it was "optimistic" that issues relating to the civil nuclear liability bill, which has remained stuck due to political opposition in India, would be resolved soon.

"We are optimistic and positive that these issues will be settled for American companies to do business in India," US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer told journalists in New Delhi when asked about political opposition in India to the civil liability legislation.

"We are making good progress," the envoy said about the implementation of the civil nuclear deal.

The passage of the civil nuclear liability legislation is among the last two remaining steps required to implement the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal.

With a reprocessing pact out of the way, India is required to enact the liability legislation and give non-proliferation assurance to US nuclear companies.

In his discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington during the Nuclear Summit last week, US President Barack Obama expressed the hope that the contentious legislation would be concluded "as expeditiously" as possible.

The government had to defer the introduction of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill in parliament March 15 due to opposition from some political parties.

The bill seeks to limit the liability of a nuclear power plant operator at Rs.500 crore ($100 million) in case of an accident, sparking criticism that the government was putting a low price tag on human lives.

Critics have also objected to what is seen as the government's design to exempt suppliers of nuclear equipment by holding the operator exclusively liable in case of a nuclear accident.