The Civil Nuclear Liability Bill "deviates significantly" from international standards and renders equipment suppliers potentially liable for as long as 80 years, according to a new report, which also asks India to take quick and resolute action to resolve the issue.
The report "Natural Allies – A Blueprint for the Future of US-India Relations" says the law is a "major disappointment to private and public officials in the US".
The report, co-authored by former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicolas Burns, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and scholar Richard Fontaine says the Indo-US nuclear agreement constituted a historic step forward in US-India ties and has become the cornerstone of the new partnership.
"Failure to complete the steps necessary to implement the agreement, however, risks severely damaging the rest of the relationship. Consequently, the United States and India must press vigorously for rapid implementation of the agreement," it said.
"The Indian Parliament recently passed a nuclear liability law that deviates significantly from international standards and renders equipment suppliers potentially liable for as long as 80 years. This law is a major disappointment to private and public officials in the United States, and India should take quick and resolute action to resolve this issue,” the report said.
It said failure to do so will undermine the most important agreement the two countries have negotiated and pose grave risks for the relationship at the political level. "By resolving the issue of legal liability, and by providing the remaining nonproliferation assurances that the United States requires, India can secure this historic achievement," the report said.
On the occasion of the release of the report, Burns, the Bush Administration's key interlocutor with India on the civil nuclear deal, warned that the landmark agreement is in "jeopardy" because of the Bill.
"The actions of the Indian Parliament in putting forward the nuclear liability bill is going to stall this agreement unless something is done to modify that action by the Indian Parliament... We are worried that this very high profile center piece part of the relationship is not going to be fulfilled without some quick action by the Indian government and the Indian Parliament," he said.
Noting that US-India strategic partnership is a two Way Street, Burns said India has obligations too. "Implement the civil nuclear agreement.
Form a nuclear liability law. Reduce barriers to defense trade. Deal with the problem of intellectual property rights violations," Burns said.