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Indo-US agreement would "free" N-technology suppliers from being held liable for nuclear accidents: CNDP

By Our Representative
Strongly reacting on the nuclear deal between India with the US during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest visit to Washington, the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India’s national network of over 200 voluntary and individuals, has said that it effectively “celebrates the undermining of India’s sovereign Nuclear Liability Act, passed by Parliament in 2010.”
While the Nuclear Liability Act ensured justice to the victims in case of an accident by making the nuclear power technology suppliers accountable, the statement says, by signing the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) as “strong foundation” for building US-imported nuclear power plants in India, but without any obligations.
The statement, signed by Achin Vanaik, Lalita Ramdas, Abey George, Anil Chaudhary and Kumar Sundaram, says, “The CSC is a template promoted by international nuclear lobbies, channeling the entire liability to the operator of plants and exempting the supplier companies. In case of a future nuclear accident in India, this would create a situation worse than Bhopal, whose victims continue to struggle for justice.”
Pointing towards the agreement on expediting “the construction of six reactors to be built by Westinghouse Corporation”, the statement wonders why the two governments have not made the actual deal between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse public, “as it would expose the absence of liability provisions and the exorbitant cost of this project.”
Asking how could the two countries in joint declaration term nuclear power as “a clean energy and solution to climate change”, the statement says, “Nuclear energy has its own heavy carbon footprints – from mining to construction of plants to disposal of waste – and has a long incubation period which makes renewable energy sources as a more efficient and faster solution to the challenge of climate change.”
“The US-imported reactors would mean devastation of the livelihoods of the Indian poor, displacement of thousands of farmers, large-scale destruction of environment and jeopardising of fragile ecologies surrounding the proposed sites”, it insists, demanding India “must join the nuclear of countries which have abandoned nuclear power after Fukushima and have opted for sustainable solutions.”
Meanwhile, a top expert, Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, has said that the US backing India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) clears “only just one of many obstacles” on way to obtain missile and missile-related technology. According to him, “In all likelihood, the US is likely to treat the export of armed drones to India with much more caution than it does to NATO allies.”
Pointing out that “US officials will also be hesitant to expand India’s perceived options for striking Pakistan”, Joshi says, “Such concerns are, of course, exaggerated if not misplaced”, yet the fact is, to obtain them “will be a very rocky road, even with the MTCR membership in India’s pocket.”
The MTCR places voluntary restrictions on its members’ exports of missile and missile-related technology. Applicable on cruise missiles and larger drones, MTRC members are required to exercise a “strong presumption to deny such transfers”, taking into account the risk of the technology being used for nuclear delivery systems or falling into the hands of terrorists.

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