US to look to India for changes in Nuclear Liability Bill

"We continue our discussions with the Indian Government on this issue and we note that Indian business leaders are concerned about some specific aspects of the law that was just passed by Parliament," State Department spokesman P J Crowley said in the first reaction by the Obama Administration to some controversial provisions in the Bill.

"We will look to the Indian Government to see what changes can be made," Crowley told reporters in response to a question on the US business being reportedly unhappy on some aspects of the liability law. The liability legislation was a vital step to clear the decks for the full implementation of the historic Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

On August 30, Parliament had adopted the nuclear liability bill with the government insisting that the compensation package for victims matches that of the US and it was still open to accommodate some suggestions.

A US South Asia expert has recently suggested that the Parliament had passed a flawed civil nuclear liability law, warning that it could cast a pall over the Indo-US nuke deal.

US policymakers and industrial leaders were taken off guard over the passage of the legislation "despite retaining language inconsistent with international standards for engaging in nuclear commerce," according to Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow for South Asia at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.

The law includes language that makes suppliers of equipment, raw materials, and services liable after the construction of a plant during any nuclear accident.

Noting that Indian business groups have denounced the legislation, 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."

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