WASHINGTON: Terming passing of the civil nuclear liability bill by the Parliament as


New Member
May 10, 2010
Flawed' liability bill threatens Indo-US nuclear deal: Expert

WASHINGTON: Terming passing of the civil nuclear liability bill by the Parliament as "flawed", an eminent American expert on South Asian affairs has said the US policy makers and industrial leaders have been taken off guard by this and it threatens to cast a pall over the historic Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

With time running fast for the November visit of the US President Barack Obama to India, Lisa Curtis, from the Heritage Foundation, in the first reaction to the bill coming from the US academics which were a key supporter of the nuclear deal called for fixing the flaws in the existing bill.

"With India's legislative clock running down and US President Barack Obama's visit to India set for November, Washington had hoped the Indian government would pass crucial legislation establishing an internationally compliant civil nuclear liability regime that would facilitate US investment in India's nuclear industry," Curtis wrote.

"Such legislation would have been the last step in completing the US-India civil nuclear deal, which has drawn out over five years now," she said.

US policymakers and industrial leaders were thus taken off guard when the legislation (titled the Civil Liability for the Nuclear Damages Bill, 2010) passed the Upper House of the Indian parliament yesterday despite retaining language inconsistent with international standards for engaging in nuclear commerce, she noted.

The law includes language that makes suppliers of equipment, raw materials, and services liable--beyond the recourse already available through the courts--for 80 years after the construction of a plant in the unlikely event of a nuclear accident, Curtis said.

Indian business groups and India's own Nuclear Power Corporation of India have been critical of the bill, she added.

" Russia, which also hopes to construct several nuclear power plants in India in the coming years, has also reportedly told Indian officials that it will not accept any liability for the supply of equipment and other material it provides to India's nuclear sector," Curtis said.

"This latest obstacle in the US-India nuclear deal is unfortunate, as it follows the successful completion of a US- India nuclear reprocessing agreement earlier this year, which granted India the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel."

India was able to secure significant concessions in the reprocessing accord, particularly by gaining approval to operate not just one but 'two' reprocessing sites. Only countries in Europe and Japan have been able to negotiate this type of special arrangement with the US.

"This liability law also follows a dust-up between the US and India over flawed legislation passed in the US Congress a few weeks ago that directly targets Indian companies that bring highly skilled workers into the US," Curtis said.

Adding that the US provision, passed in the border security bill targeting illegal immigration, requires companies that hire a large number of highly skilled foreign workers to pay millions more in visa fees.

"There is still an opportunity to find solutions to these issues before President Obama visits India in November, but both sides will have to step up their engagement and find common ground on issues of mutual interest," Curtis said.

" Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan acknowledged, 'The (nuclear liability) law would make India the only country in the world that placed some liability on suppliers... this is not finality ... if required, the bill will be changed for the better.

"Fixing this issue in a prompt manner would help improve the atmospherics surrounding President Obama's upcoming visit to India," she said.

"Given the obstructive behaviour on this issue by India's principal opposition party -- the BJP -- it is easy to forget that it was the BJP-led government who first introduced the idea of US-India civil nuclear cooperation," Curtis said.

Read more: 'Flawed' liability bill threatens Indo-US nuclear deal: Expert - India - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...-Expert/articleshow/6471824.cms#ixzz0yEzHIzQV
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Senior Member
Feb 26, 2010
I am sorry if I misunderstood, but the I thought that the title does not match the contents of the posted article.

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