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N-liability law still a hurdle

delhi Updated: Jul 20, 2011 01:57 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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The logjam arising out of India's nuclear liability legislation remains unresolved as Washington pushes for a "level playing filed" for it's firms, which seek to enter India's nuclear energy sector.

But the US has reassured India that the strengthening of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines, with regard to the transfer of sensitive technologies, should not be construed as "detracting from the unique impact and importance of the US-India civil nuclear agreement or commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation."

India has made it clear to the US that it would ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) by the end of this year-something New Delhi said it would do in a year's time during President Barack Obama's visit last year.

However, this may not be an easy move as many countries find that the Indian nuclear liability law, with its stringent supplier liability clause is not in harmony with international liability regimes.

New Delhi also believes, "some of the doubts" the US have on India's liability legislation will be addressed once the rules for the Indian liability law are in place.http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/200711/20_07_pg8a.jpg

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was very clear on the issue while addressing the joint press conference with external affairs minister SM Krishna.

She said, "We are looking forward to India ratifying the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage during this year, before the end of this year, and we would encourage engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that the liability regime that India adopts by law fully conforms with the international requirements under the convention."

The US also fears that the supplier liability clause will eventually result in higher tariffs, as various suppliers involved will have to take insurance cover.

But the joint statement issued after the strategic dialogue was optimistic.

"They reiterated their commitment to build strong US-India civil nuclear energy cooperation through the participation of US nuclear energy firms in India on the basis of mutually acceptable technical and commercial terms and conditions that enable a viable tariff regime for electricity generated," the joint statement said.