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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Biden lands but govt still stuck on nuclear law

Jayanth Jacob and Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 23, 2013
First Published: 02:12 IST(23/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:14 IST(23/7/2013)

Civil nuclear cooperation may be high on Joe Biden’s agenda—  the first official visit by a US vice president in three decades — which began on Monday but the government departments are clueless on how to proceed on the nuclear liability law.

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This continues to come in the way of two sides working out the commercial details of a contract between the government-controlled Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) and the Westinghouse Electric of the US for setting up the first American reactor in India. They hope to make some progress when PM Manmohan Singh visits the US in September.

Biden will have to address a heavy economic agenda besides the endgame in Afghanistan while New Delhi is keen to address the immigration issue and cooperation in cyber security during the trip, which is marked by “positive developments” for the US like lifting of FDI cap in several sectors, including telecom and defence.

 Not only the US, the Indian government, despite its declared intent to begin nuclear commerce with Russia and France also at the earliest, is finding it tough with the NPCIL  and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) raising several legal questions on fixing responsibility in case of a nuclear accident, HT has learnt.

“Neither NPCIL nor DAE responded to any of the suppliers on nuclear liability issue”, the letter from DAE to law ministry said on July 11.


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