New Delhi, Jul 19: The US today said it was “fully” committed to the civil nuclear pact with India but asked it to ratify the UN convention on nuclear damages and bring its domestic liability regime in line with international norms.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the second round of Indo-US Strategic Dialogue with her counterpart S M Krishna, made it very clear that there were “issues” which required to be resolved by the two sides in the civil nuclear field. But she did not go into the specifics.
Addressing a joint press conference, she said the US was committed to the Indo-US nuke deal and the recent Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) decision to strengthen guidelines on transfer of Enrichment and Reprocessing Technology (ENR) should not be construed as detracting from the “unique impact and importance” of the pact.
But she added that “We are looking forward to India ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) on Nuclear Damages 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 with the international requirements under the Convention.
“We stand by our agreement. Many of us have worked very hard for the agreement. We are committed to it but we do expect it to be enforceable and actionable in all regards,” Clinton said after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Krishna.
The US strongly supports India's membership in four export control regimes including the NSG in a phased manner, she said.
India, which signed the CSC last year, is expected to ratify it by this November with officials here saying the process was “on course”.
The CSC provides for an international fund to compensate victims in the case of a nuclear accident and limits financial liability of foreign nuclear operators.
India's liability regime has been a bone of contention between it and many of its nuclear partners as many international companies, including American firms have expressed reservations about some aspects of the domestic law that they fear impose huge penalty on foreign suppliers in case of nuclear accidents.
However, the officials here have been maintaining that the law was in accordance with international standards and said India was ready to allay any apprehension the foreign suppliers have on its liability regime.
“With regard to our civil nuclear agreement, this represents a major investment by both of our countries. In this critical bilateral relationship, we need to resolve the issues that still remain,” Clinton said.
She also described the clean waiver that India obtained from the 46-nation NSG in 2008 as “an accomplishment” by both the US and the Indian government. PTI