BJP opposes ambiguities in N-Bill remark

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 10 2010, 07:53am hrs
The dust has barely settled after the visit of US president Barack Obama but the Opposition BJP is already sharpening its knives to question certain key assurances in the joint statement by Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The bone of contention according to top sources in the party pertains to what a senior leader terms ambiguities in the statement on supplier liabilities in India's domestic law on nuclear liability.

The language of the joint statement has given rise to suspicions in our minds about the intentions of the government vis a vis nuclear liability, said a top source in the party.

According to the source, the suspicion arises from the following lines : They reiterated their commitment to build strong India-US civil nuclear energy cooperation through the participation of the US nuclear energy firms in India on the basis of mutually acceptable technical and commercial terms and conditions that enable a viable tariff regime for electricity generated. They noted that both countries had enacted domestic legislations and were also signatories to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC). They further noted that India intends to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation within the coming year and is committed to ensuring a level playing field for US companies seeking to enter the Indian nuclear energy sector, consistent with Indias national and international legal obligations.

It indicates that when contracts for supply of nuclear equipment with US companies will be written out, they will be worded in such a way that the international covenant on the matter will prevail over India's domestic law, source said.

New Delhi recently signed the multilateral CSC which seeks to ensure that nuclear suppliers' liability on account of accidents would follow international norms. The source also added that the statement also hints at a dual tariff regime, which was unacceptable to the party. The BJP also indicated that they would put the government on the mat over its silence after President Obama referred to Iran and Myanmar in his speech to the joint Houses of Parliament. A simple statement reiterating India's strategic relationship with these two countries would have sufficed, said the leader. Both these issues will be raised in parliament by the party.