Millennium Post

India, US get into huddle in London on nuke deal

Racing against time, officials from India and the US met in London on Wednesday to resolve issues that have come in the way of operationalising the landmark civil nuclear deal with President Barack Obama due here in four days’ time.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, also exuded hope that there will be progress on the deal.

“We continue to be hopeful of implementing the civil nuclear agreement to fulfil the PM (Narendra Modi’s) goal of providing electricity to all Indians by 2020,” he said at an event here.

The talks of the Indo-US Contact Group centred on the ticklish liability issue which has stalled the implementation of the agreements inked in 2005 between the then US President George Bush and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The officials are believed to have made progress in the London parleys. The Indian liability law holds the suppliers directly liable in case of a nuclear accident while countries like France and the US have asked India to follow global norms under which the primary liability is with the operator.

Since all the nuclear power plants in the country are run by the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), following international norms will mean the government would have to pay for the damages in case of an accident.

Another contentious clause in the liability law was unlimited liability for which international companies will find it difficult to get insurers.

The talks in London on Wednesday followed the second round in Vienna earlier this month and sources here indicated that there was “forward movement” in the last two rounds and the officials would build on that to achieve something “concrete”.

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