Millennium Post

Moscow flags liability clause, mars Singh’s nuclear dream

Reminiscent of the ‘inconclusive’ nuclear deal with the United States during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to New York last month, India is unlikely to sign the expected agreement with Russia for the supply of units III and IV of the Kudankulam nuclear reactor due to reservations by Moscow over the ‘liability clause’. Singh reached Moscow on Sunday for his two-day visit to discuss issues related to the disputed nuclear plant and cooperation in defence, nuclear energy, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment and people to people exchanges.
Sources also said that parties from both sides are closely contemplating ‘all options’.

Official sources said all issues except one on the liability clause are yet to be resolved and lawyers on both sides are working on it. ‘We have cleaned up the text of the agreement and now lawyers on both sides are having a final look at the agreement,’ the sources added.

‘In any case it (agreement) won’t be signed during the visit because it is a commercial agreement between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Rosatom. They would like to do it separately,’ sources said.

Russia is opposed to the project coming under the ambit of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, and wants it to be covered under the inter-governmental agreement on the issue. India has tried to assuage Russian concerns by making proposals on the liability limiting it to suppliers default in cases of equipment failure in the event of an accident. On the other aspects of bilateral ties with Russia, sources said India was in the process of reaching agreements on expanding the programme, including in the hydrocarbons sector and deals may be signed in this area. In the light of the Kudankulam hiccup, to a question on whether the strategic relationship with Russia has undergone an alteration, diplomatic sources said India has ‘adapted’ to changes after the breakup of the Soviet Union and in fact, the ties have picked up.

‘Russia is now a privileged partner with ties in defence, energy and other areas. We have a politically comprehensive relationship on the right trajectory,’ sources said.
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