US slips in deadline for nuclear law
By bbsbuzz - Wed Jul 20, 10:56 am
New Delhi, July 19: US secretary of state Hillary Clinton today urged New Delhi to amend “before the end of this year” a nuclear liability law that has discouraged American companies from entering India’s nuclear energy market.
Having pursued her domestic compulsions, Clinton sought to address India’s concerns by promising to “press” Pakistan “as hard as possible” to take action against the plotters of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. She also said no terrorist “should be given safe havens and free pass by any government”.
Washington believes that Indian legislation on equipment makers’ liability in case of nuclear accidents is much more stringent than those in other countries. The US has been nudging India to ratify a nuclear liabilities regime that conformed to international standards but this is the first time that an American leader has virtually set a deadline in public.
Last October, India signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damages (CSC), which seeks to establish a uniform global legal regime for compensation to victims of nuclear accidents and fixes the operator’s liability. However, Parliament is yet to ratify it.
“We are looking forward to India ratifying the (convention) before the end of this year and we will encourage an engagement with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that the liability regime that India adopts… fully conforms to the international requirements under the convention,” Clinton said.
“We need to resolve those issues that still remain so that we can reap the rewards of the (Indo-US civil nuclear deal),” Clinton said at a joint news conference with foreign minister S.M. Krishna.
A joint statement issued later noted: “India intends to ratify the CSC within this year…. India is committed to ensuring a level playing field for US companies seeking to enter the Indian nuclear energy sector, consistent with India’s national and international legal obligations.”
Clinton, who is here for the second Indo-US strategic dialogue, reaffirmed American support for the nuclear deal, and for the September 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) clean waiver that enables New Delhi to do nuclear commerce.
Some, however, saw her as putting a condition over whether America should honour its verbal commitments to transfer nuclear enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology to India after the NSG’s recent amendments to its guidelines. These amendments prohibit transfer of ENR technology to nations that are not signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), effectively rolling back the 2008 waiver to India, which is not an NPT signatory.