The annual summit between India and Russia taking place in Moscow next week will see one more effort by both sides to bridge their differences over the nuclear liability issue.
Russia, which agreed to supply Kudankulam-1 and 2 before the Indian liability legislation came into existence, has insisted that the 2010 law should not apply to its supply of reactors 3 and 4, which should be treated as an extension of the same project.
The two sides have been in negotiations about the liability clauses, the sources said, and New Delhi is hopeful of an agreement on the two reactors during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s upcoming visit to Moscow from October 20-22 for the 14th annual India-Russia summit. The Indian side is apparently hoping to convince the Russians that the fine print of the Act can limit the liability of the supplier. One view is that the right to recourse is not automatic, the role of the supplier in any accident has to be proved, and that there is enough leg room in the law to ensure supplier liability does not become a deal breaker.
“The Russians,” said one source, “need to know what their liability is”, and that GIC is working on “quantifying” it.
Apart from nuclear energy, Prime Minister Singh’s talks with President Vladimir Putin will cover a range of issues including political, strategic, trade issues, and military issues.
Agenda in China
From Moscow, Prime Minister Singh travels to Beijing, where the two sides are likely to sign the Border Defence Co-operation Agreement, talks for which began earlier this year. The BDCA is expected to provide an additional mechanism to deal with problems at the LAC, in addition to the 2005 Peace and Tranquillity agreement.
In New Delhi’s view, the resolution of the intrusion in Ladakh earlier this year showed that there is an ability and willingness to manage such incidents peacefully.
The BDCA is expected to add one more confidence building measure to the existing 2005 pact.
India would also like more details from China on how it uses the waters of the Brahmaputra in addition to the hydrological data the two sides already exchange under an agreement renewed during the Chinese premier’s visit to New Delhi in May this year.
This allows India to monitor flows, but New Delhi wants a joint mechanism that will ensure more transparency on Chinese plans on proposed dam projects.