There “continue to be serious concerns” that India's 2010 nuclear liability law is not consistent with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, and the IAEA is an “appropriate venue” to clarify such questions, according to the U.S. State Department.
To a query from The Hindu, the Department put out a formal statement clarifying its position on the subject of IAEA adjudication. “The Agency can be helpful in assisting countries in evaluating their compliance with the CSC,” the State Department noted.
However, the statement did not address the question whether there had been any precedent in which the IAEA had advised any other country on whether its nuclear liability laws were consistent with international standards such as the CSC.
The issue gained salience this week when U.S. Deputy Secretary William Burns said, “We encourage India to engage with the IAEA to ensure that India's liability regime fully conforms with the international requirements under the [CSC].”
During a speech at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Burns had welcomed India's commitment to ratify the CSC later this year. However, he had added that if international and Indian firms were to participate in India's civil nuclear sector, “India needs a nuclear liability regime consistent with international standards.”
His comments reflect the tenor of remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her July meeting with Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna in New Delhi at the second round of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. Ms. Clinton had stated the U.S. position in the very same words that Mr. Burns used this week.
While Mr. Burns said completing the civil nuclear partnership was central to both nations' long-term prosperity and India's future energy security, Ambassador Nirupama Rao, who also spoke at the same event, said “On its part, the Government of India is committed to provide a level playing field for all our international partners.”