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Indo-U.S. civil nuclear pact likely to miss deadline

Indo-U.S. civil nuclear pact likely to miss deadline

More than two years after India and the U.S. announced that the civil nuclear deal was “done”, its actual operationalization is still in doubt.

As per the agreement over liability issues and the negotiations that followed, the two sides had agreed to work towards finalizing the contractual arrangement by June 2017 for constructing six reactors in Andhra Pradesh. This is to be done by Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).

Earlier India has submitted the Instrument of Ratification for the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). With the ratification, India becomes part of a global legal regime that has established a standard for compensation of victims in the event of a nuclear accident.

What actual operationalization would mean:

Actual operationalization of the Indo-US nuclear deal would mean that both sides have affectively sorted out all their issues, which includes the issue of liability.

Liability was a contentious issue as India has emphasized on supplier liability whereas the US has always advocated for liability on part of the operator.

The actual operationalization is dependent on two factors:

  • Completion of the India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), as supplier of reactors that include Toshiba are bound by Japanese laws
  • The actual contract is to be negotiated by the U.S based Westinghouse, but questions have been raised over the impact of a possible bankruptcy filing by the company

Status of India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

  • It is yet to be ratified by the Japanese parliament
  • Concerns were raised in India on the inclusion of a termination or nullification clause in the agreement
  • Though India maintains a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing, but has refused to sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which assumes significance in Japan looking at its history

Opposition of India’s membership to the NSG:

  • China has been blocking India’s membership bid for the 48-member grouping despite backing from majority members because India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  • It is also advocating a two-step approach for admission of countries who have not signed the NPT
  • Thus, first it wants to find a solution applicable to all non-NPT countries followed by discussions on admitting specific nations
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