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

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.