India has asserted that its civil nuclear liability rules were formulated in a balanced way and indicated it would look into Russia’s demand not to bring the planned additional reactors in Kudankulam under their purview only after the final agreement is signed.
Indian officials stressed on the sidelines of the just concluded summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the country’s first ever rule on civil liability for nuclear damage was balanced and fair to both foreign suppliers and nuclear plant operators.
The comments came against the backdrop of demands by Russia that the entire Kudankulam nuclear power project should be out of the purview of civil nuclear liability rules.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin at the same time expressed the hope that the liability laws would not impede bilateral nuclear cooperation.
Mr. Kadakin also said Russia wants the terms and conditions for the third and fourth reactors to be similar to the first two units. He said the agreement for the first two units were signed a decade back when there were no nuke liability rules.
Responding to this, Indian officials said the final technical-commercial contract for the third and fourth reactors were yet to be signed and that India would not be able to look into the Russian plea for keeping them out of the purview of liability rules at this state.
“We will see when (final agreement) it comes,” an official said.
The protocol for grant of state credit by Russia to India was recently finalised and announced by Dr. Singh at the Moscow summit on Friday.
The negotiations on the techno-commercial offer on the construction of third and fourth units are in an advanced stage.
The Indian stand on the concerns by foreign suppliers on the liability rules was also clearly articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month after his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Bali in Indonesia on the sidelines of a multilateral summit.
Dr. Singh had said that any concerns the U.S. may have regarding India’s nuclear liability regime would have to be resolved “within the four corners of the law’ and in accordance with “the law of the land.”
Notwithstanding the Russian demands relating to nuclear liability laws, India has promised to adhere by the nuclear energy road map, under which it has promised an alternative site to the Russians for a nuclear plant instead of West Bengal’s Haripur that has witnessed local protests.
Mr. Kadakin last week said that Russia is awaiting a response on this for nearly a year now.
“The alternative site (to Haripur) will be considered. PM emphasised on adhering to the nuclear power road map with Russia,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said after the Singh-Medvedev summit.
A joint statement issued at the end of the summit also said the two countries reiterated their commitment to the agreements reached previously on the construction of Russian design nuclear power plants at new sites in India.