Implementation of the civil nuclear deal is “proceeding smoothly and satisfactorily” and the civil nuclear liability bill is likely to be introduced in the Parliament after the recess, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Tuesday.
“As far as introduction of the civil nuclear liability bill in the Parliament is concerned, it is ready for introduction, and in all likelihood it would be introduced after the recess,” Ms. Rao said in response to a question at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, a Washington-based think-tank.
Major definitive milestone
Terming conclusion of the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008 as “a major definitive milestone in Indo-US relationship”, she said “we are in the process of operationalising the Agreement through close coordination between our two Governments.”
Referring to Joint Statement issued during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US in November last, Ms. Rao said, “the two leaders reiterated their intention to realise the full potential of the India-US Agreement for Cooperation concerning the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy through the implementation of its provisions.”
“They agreed to expedite US firms’ participation in the implementation of this agreement,” she said.
Earlier, while addressing the seventh High Technology Cooperation Group, Ms. Rao said, implementation of India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement and the India US Bilateral Investment Treaty, presently under discussion, as also the defence procurement programme, are opportunities for a win-win situation for both the countries.
“Once the 123-Agreement is implemented, a structured bilateral interaction with the industry on both sides could take forward the process.
“In the meanwhile, there is already a steady and direct interaction between US nuclear industry and NPCIL. Two MoUs have already been signed with GE Hitachi and Westinghouse,” she said.
Later at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, Ms. Rao said India agrees with the vision of a nuclear weapon free world outlined by US President Barack Obama in April last.
In 2006, India presented specific proposals in the UN General Assembly as possible building blocks of a new global, verifiable nuclear disarmament framework.
These include: a global agreement on “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states; measures to reduce nuclear danger through de-alerting, reducing salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and preventing unintentional or accidental use; a Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and on their destruction etc.
“Presently, we wish to see the emergence of a consensus in the Conference on Disarmament on issues that the international community considers essential, including negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty,” Ms. Rao said, adding India was committed to global efforts for preventing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction.
“We have a law-based system of export controls that has stood the test of time. We have updated it in accordance with international best practices. Our lists and guidelines are harmonized with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime even though we are not as yet members of these regimes,” Ms. Rao said.
Driven by common concerns about the security of nuclear assets -- particularly in the backdrop of the increasing threat of terrorist access to them, India and the US are partners in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Nuclear Security Summit
“Next month, Prime Minister Singh would participate in the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama. We believe that the Summit can be milestone in addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism. We also hope that India and the US can find other opportunities to work for the safe, secure and proliferation resistant expansion of nuclear energy around the world,” Ms. Rao said.
Nirupama Rao to meet Clinton, NSA
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao is set to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor James Jones, signifying importance attach by the Obama Administration to ties with India.
Ms. Rao, who is currently on a six-day trip to the US, would also be meeting her American counterpart Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns. Besides, Washington she would be visiting New York.
Her meetings are likely to cover a host of bilateral and regional issues ahead of US President Barack Obama visit to India later this year.
“The next phase of Indo-US strategic dialogue, scheduled here sometime in late spring or early spring, are expected to figure in her meeting with Clinton and Burns,” a State Department official said.
The issues of Afghanistan, Pakistan, non-proliferation and export controls are likely to discussed during her meeting with the NSA, a senior Obama administration official said.
Last week, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake had said, in an interview, that both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believe that Indo-US relationship is going to be one of the most consequential of the US foreign policy in the 21st century.