Congress cautions government on nuke liability revision

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 23, 2015 23:20 IST

Amidst reports that the government is seeking to address US concerns on nuclear liability law, the Congress has warned that any 'understanding' that bypasses the Indian 'legal framework, parliament and national consensus' will not be acceptable.

The Congress - pointing out that BJP itself had made proposals which were incorporated into the law - has said the government has not taken the opposition into confidence.

"A solution for operationalisation of the agreement has to be within the four corners of the Indian legal framework and the Act of Parliament," said party spokesman Anand Sharma. "This government should not act in a manner which is opaque and which raises doubts and misgivings.'

US has long felt that despite all the 'heavy lifting' it did to lift restrictions for nuclear cooperation with India, the Indian liability law makes it difficult for investors to take advantage of the opening up. They specifically point to a provision where suppliers are liable in case of any accident. India has maintained changing the law is not possible - but it is willing to address US concerns.

In recent meetings, it has floated the idea of an insurance pool that covers the liability. While the US has responded positively to the suggestion, another hitch has come up. This is the demand for rights to monitor material or equipment in a US reactor even if sourced from a third country. India is deeply uncomfortable with what it sees as an intrusion on nuclear sovereignty. Negotiators in London failed to resolve the issue, and now PM Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama will have to look into it.

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