Sci-Tech

India-US make major breakthrough in N-deal

January 26, 2015 05:24 AM
Modi and Obama emotional union

NEW DELHI: India and US successfully finalized terms and conditions for operationalizing their 2008 civil nuclear cooperation agreement in what was the most significant takeaway from US President Barack Obama's summit meet with PM Narendra Modi Sunday.

What clinched it for both countries was Obama's decision to use his executive powers to waive off this condition imposed by US negotiators. The US will go only by IAEA inspection of India's use of nuclear material and equipment, as per the agreement reached.

Even as Modi and Obama continued with their meeting here at Hyderabad House, official sources said the US had agreed to withdraw its "highly intrusive"? demand for tracking of nuclear material sourced even from third countries for use in reactors supplied by US companies.

This single issue threatened to derail the talks held last week by the nuclear contact group and the 2 sides left it to Obama and Modi to decide themselves what they wanted from the agreement which has remained stuck for the past 7 years. What clinched it for both countries was Obama's decision to use his executive powers to waive off this condition imposed by US negotiators. The US will go only by IAEA inspection of India's use of nuclear material and equipment, as per the agreement reached.

The administrative arrangements which the US sought in the London meeting of the contact group had turned into a real hurdle even though the meeting saw considerable progress over the liability issue. While a formal announcement is still awaited, the US has agreed to India's proposal to build an insurance pool to provide cover to suppliers who shunned the civil nuclear agreement because it made them liable to pay compensation in the event of a nuclear accident through a right of recourse provided by section 17 (b) of India's 2010 nuclear liability law.

The 2 countries are also seeking to address concerns over section 46 of the same law which makes suppliers vulnerable tort claims. This section empowers ordinary citizens to file tort claims against suppliers, something which is seen by the US industry as opening US companies to potentially unlimited liability.

The development is likely to be touted as a major achievement? by the Modi government as the 2 countries can now move to effect civil nuclear "within the framework of law" and without having to dilute the liability law. The civil nuclear cooperation with the US could never really take off in the past 7 years because of differences over liability and administrative issues despite India having alloted sites to US companies in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

 

 

 

 

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