US says committed to n-deal, pushes India on liability law (Lead)

July 19th, 2011 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The US Tuesday said it was fully committed to the nuclear waiver granted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to India and full civilian cooperation with it. Washington, however, flagged off some potential sticking points, asking New Delhi to ratify a global treaty on nuclear damages by year-end and bring its civilian nuclear law to international standards.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is here on a three-day visit, allayed India’s concerns over the new guidelines of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group that ban the transfer or enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Clinton underlined her country was committed to expanding full civilian nuclear cooperation with India and came out in support of India’s membership of the elite nuclear clubs like the NSG which control the global flow of atomic equipment and fuel.

“We are looking to India to ratify the Convention on Suuplementary Compensation by the end of this year. The liability regime should fully conform to international convention,” Clinton said when asked about the new NSG guidelines.

India signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage in November last year days before the visit of US President Barack Obama. The CSC provides an international fund to compensate victims in the case of a nuclear accident; it also protects nuclear operators by limiting their financial liability.

India is expected to take up the CSC for ratification by its parliament soon.

Clinton also asked India to bring its domestic civilian nuclear liability law in conformity with international standards, indicating that some key issues regarding their nuclear deal remain unresolved between the two countries.

The liability regime has been a bone of contention between India and the US since they signed their landmark nuclear accord in September 2008. US companies have expressed reservations about some aspects of the civil nuclear liability law that they fear impose onerous penalty on foreign suppliers of nuclear reactors in case of accidents, deterring them from supplying nuclear reactors to India.

Forcefully reiterating the US commitment to civilian nuclear cooperation, Clinton said her country stood by the waiver given by the 46-nation NSG to India in September 2008 and described it as “a joint accomplishment.”

Alluding to the new NSG guidelines, Clinton stressed that nothing in them should detract from the India-US civil nuclear agreement.

“The US remains fully committed yo expanding civil nuclear cooperation with India. We strongly support India’s membership in four export control regimes including the NSG in a phased manner,” she said.

“We stand by our commitment and want it to be enforceable and actionable in all regards,” she added.

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