India is likely to begin discussions this month with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for accession to the international Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC).

The Indian delegation to the IAEA General Conference, which begins in Vienna on September 20, will hold separate talks with secretariat officials on the issue. It will be led by Department of Atomic Energy Chairman Srikumar Banerjee.

Promise to U.S.

In September 2008, India promised the United States that it would “take all steps necessary to adhere to the CSC.” The commitment was made in writing in the run-up to Congressional approval of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement in 2008.

The CSC has many provisions but the main reason Washington wants India in the Convention is that it would bar victims of an accident resulting from nuclear equipment supplied by an American company from approaching the U.S. courts for compensation.

One of the requirements for adherence is that the member countries must pass a domestic nuclear liability law in conformity with the model statute contained in the CSC annex.

Criticism

U.S. analysts have criticised section 17(b) of the Indian liability law as finally passed by Parliament because it opens the door to claims against suppliers and thus makes India ineligible for the Convention.

Indian officials, however, insist, the nuclear liability bill is CSC-compliant.

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