External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday refuted reports about proposed signing of an agreement, which may not be in tune with Indian nuclear liability law, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s forthcoming visit to the US and said the government would go by the mandate of parliament on the issue.
He said the government, which is bound by the rules framed in Parliament, would not take any decision which is against national interest.
“Laws are framed by Parliament and nobody can overrule it.
Then, how the government can? This is impossible. The government would do according to the law of the land and not take any decision which is against the nation’s interest,” Mr. Khurshid told reporters on the sidelines of an exhibition.
Ahead of the Prime Minister’s US visit, a controversy has broken out over the nuclear liability law with reports suggesting that an agreement would be signed which might not be in tune with India’s domestic law.
It is said that the Cabinet Committee on Security would consider a proposal to sign an agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and the US-based operator Westinghouse Electric Company.
The US sees the Civil Liability for Nuclear Disaster Act as a hurdle in selling nuclear reactors to India.
The law allows NPCIL to seek partial compensation from suppliers if their reactors are involved in a nuclear accident.
But in an opinion given to the Department of Atomic Energy, Attorney General G E Vahanvati is learnt to have said it is up to the nuclear plant operator to invoke section 17 of the Act regarding liability of suppliers in case of a mishap.
Mr. Khurshid said the Indo-US civil nuclear deal had been signed but it doesn’t mean that a commercial agreement should also be signed.
He said “the US has done enough for us and we should also reciprocate but that doesn’t mean we will sign a deal just to make some one happy going against the law, Parliament and against India’s national interest.”
He said the government would do only those things which have been mandated by Parliament.
The Minister stressed that “the views of four other nuclear regime nations have changed towards us after signing of the Indo-US Civil nuclear deal”.
Keywords: Indo-US nuclear deal, Manmohan Singh government, U.S. pressure, Parliament mandate, nuclear liability law, nuclear damage liability, Left reaction, Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, Salman Khurshid