The Obama administration's priority is to ensure that American companies get a level playing field in India's civil nuclear industry, the State Department has said. "Completing the US-Indian civil nuclear cooperation partnership is central to both our nations' long-term prosperity and India's future energy security," it said yesterday in a written response to a question on the issue.
"Ensuring a level playing field for US companies to invest in India's civil nuclear industry remains a priority for the State Department," the State Department statement said. The statement came days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia and discussed the nuclear issue. "I explained to him (Obama) that we have a law in place. Rules have been formulated.
These rules will lie before our Parliament for 30 days," Singh had said after the meeting. "Therefore, we have gone some way to respond to the concerns of American companies and within the four corners of the law of the land we are willing to address any specific grievances," he had said against the backdrop of apprehensions among US firms that Indian liability laws were not supplier friendly. Singh had also told Obama that India was ready to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), another issue that the US wants to be done as part of implementation of the civil nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, the State Department statement also said it was still studying the recent gazette notification on regulations on civil nuclear liability. The rules, which were notified on November 16, make it clear among other things that there would be no unlimited or unending liability on part of the suppliers.
"We are continuing to study India's regulations on civil nuclear liability," the statement said in reference to the gazette notification by the Indian government in this regard. Informed sources familiar with the deliberations said that the United States is not at all happy with the notification as it feels that US companies would be at a disadvantage and its core issues have not been addressed. However, despite being repeatedly asked by journalists at the daily press briefings of the State Department, its officials are reluctant to publicly air their differences with India on this particular issue.