Little progress on Indo-US civil nuclear deal: US Senator

Alleging Obama Administration of doing little to implement the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, a top Republican Senator has said the nuclear liability bill is "fundamentally inconsistent" with the liability regime that the international community is seeking to achieve .

"This agreement remains important to the broad strategic advancement of the US-Indian relationship. But in the narrower context of nuclear trade with India, it has yet to bear significant fruit," Senator Richard Lugar said at the confirmation hearing of US Ambassador-designate to India, Nancy Powell yesterday.

"In large measure, this stems from the Indian parliament's adoption of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill," he said.

Noting that in 2008, the US concluded the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India, Lugar, who played a key role in its Congressional passage, said the legislation lifted a three-decade American moratorium on nuclear trade with India and opened the door for trade in a wide range of other high-technology items, such as supercomputers and fiber optics.

"This legislation effectively rules out Indian accession to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (the CSC) and could frustrate the US nuclear industry's efforts to play a role in India's expanding nuclear power sector," Lugar said.

"The bill's plain terms are fundamentally inconsistent with the liability regime that the international community is seeking to achieve in the CSC. To date, this Administration has made very little progress on the CSC with India," the US Senator said.

In response, Powell said that she is eager to support efforts to ensure full implementation of the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, including ensuring a level playing field for American companies in the commercial applications of nuclear energy.
A day earlier, the visiting Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, said that India will ensure a level playing field for US companies in the country's nuclear energy sector.

Mathai added that the two countries has remained engaged and must now take practical steps to advance this cooperation, as they have done over the past year.

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