Skip to main content

India-US nuclear deal: "Complex" legal issues suggest it wasn't a breakthrough, says Washington Post

By Our Representative
Premier US daily "Washington Post" has quoted American officials, analysts and experts to say that the claimed nuclear deal with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, arrived at during President Barack Obama's recent India visit, cannot be characterised as a breakthrough, as "legal issues remain so complex that private US companies may continue to shy away from new deals in India, despite the developing country’s fast-growing and dire power needs." 
Jointly penned by Annie Gowen, the paper's India bureau chief, and Steven Mufson, in Washington, it says, latest information from the Government of India suggests the deal has not paved the way "for US firms to sell nuclear reactors to India".
While the deal's details remain sketchy, the paper says, on Wednesday, Indian officials cited three key elements of the agreement: "The establishment of an insurance pool to cover nuclear operators and suppliers for up to $250 million in damages; a nonbinding legal memorandum asserting that Indian liability law is consistent with international norms; and a new system of reporting on the status of nuclear fuel and other materials supplied by the United States."
Taking exception to the Indian liability law, the paper quotes anonymous White House officials to say that the deal is "not a signed piece of paper", but just a "process that led us to a better understanding of how we might move forward”. It underlines, "The key issue will be whether the conflict between international and Indian law can be waved away by a memorandum from India’s attorney general".
It quotes a Washington lawyer familiar with the issue to say the any new contract to supply reactors would have to clearly mention that "the 2010 liability law doesn’t mean what it says."
The paper insists, the "real test" of the deal will be when the US and Japanese companies "sign commercial contracts with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Already, Jonathan Allen, a spokesman for General Electrical (GE) Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which has a tieup for Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), has said it  looks forward “to reviewing the governmental agreement.” 
The paper suggests that review will be taken in the backdrop of how how, in 2010, the Indian Parliament passed a "strict liability law that angered many in Washington and effectively stalled efforts by companies such as Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to sell materials or partner to build nuclear power plants in India."
Pointing to another "obstacle" that remains intact, the paper says, it is "the requirement in the Hyde Act of 2006 that the Indian government and an independent auditor annually provide information about the form, amounts and location of any uranium supplied to India to make sure it is not diverted for military use." 
While Obama officials said that "the two sides came up with a tracking system specific to India that will rely heavily on a series of information exchanges", the paper believes, US' nonproliferation experts remain concerned.
"India’s first nuclear reactor dates to 1956; the country has 21 reactors at seven power plant sites", the paper says, emphasizing, "The United States and Canada withdrew support for the nuclear program after the country exploded a nuclear device in 1974, and the United States and Japan imposed sanctions after the 1998 tests. Members of Congress will want to be sure that India cannot skirt the Bush-era legislation and did not simply wear down American negotiators to achieve the present agreement."
Already, the paper says, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.) has said in a statement that “to get this contentious issue off the table, the Administration simply signed off on the same measures taken by India that the Administration had previously said were unacceptable”. It comments, "Even if the thorny details of the liability question are worked out — a big if, analysts say — American companies still face the political realities of India."
It adds, "Although the government concedes that nuclear power must remain part of the country’s energy mix, particularly to counter rising greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power plants remain unpopular with local residents, and acquiring land to build plants can take years." 
It quotes MK Bhadrakumar, a former Indian ambassador who is now an analyst, that the “breakthrough” touted by Obama and Modi "may end up being more of a diplomatic success than a commercial breakthrough".

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.