Report calls for action to resolve issue

The civil nuclear liability law “deviates significantly” from international standards and makes equipment suppliers potentially liable for as long as 80 years, a new report says. It also asks India to take quick and firm action to resolve the issue.

The report, ‘Natural Allies-A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations,' says the law is a “major disappointment to private and public officials in the U.S.”

Co-authored by the former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicolas Burns; the former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, and scholar Richard Fontaine, the report says the India-U.S. nuclear agreement constituted a historic step forward in bilateral ties and became the cornerstone of the new partnership. “Failure to complete the steps necessary to implement the agreement, however, risks severely damaging the rest of the relationship. Consequently, the United States and India must press vigorously for rapid implementation of the agreement.”

The report says: “By resolving the issue of legal liability and by providing the remaining non-proliferation assurances that the United States requires, India can secure this historic achievement.”

On the occasion of the release of the report, Mr. Burns, the Bush Administration's key interlocutor with India on the agreement, warned that the landmark deal was in “jeopardy” because of the law. The action of the Indian Parliament in putting forward the law would stall this agreement “unless something is done to modify that action by the Indian Parliament... We are worried that this very high profile centrepiece part of the relationship is not going to be fulfilled without some quick action by the Indian government and Parliament.”

Noting that the strategic partnership was a two-way street, Mr. Burns said India too had obligations. “Implement the civil nuclear agreement. Form a nuclear liability law. Reduce barriers to defence trade. Deal with the problem of intellectual property rights violations.”

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