U.S. plays hardball with India on nuclear deal

November 28, 2014 02:45 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:33 pm IST - KATHMANDU:

As nuclear negotiators and technical experts travel to India next week, the U.S. is taking a tough position on negotiations for the civil nuclear deal and putting the ball firmly in the Indian government’s court.

“India needs to come up with a solution that is workable for the companies to have a viable opportunity to work in India,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal, speaking to The Hindu in her first comments since the announcement of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India as the Republic Day chief guest.

Asked if a breakthrough was possible ahead of Mr. Obama’s visit, Ms. Biswal said, “I see there is a lot of hard work ahead and I would not be sanguine about announcing any early breakthrough. What is required right now is not a lot of unrealistic expectations.”

India and the U.S. negotiators have been in a logjam over operationalising the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal of 2008, with objections from the U.S. mainly on the issue of liability to nuclear suppliers under India’s supplier’s liability law. In 2009, India even allocated two locations in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh for the U.S. companies Westinghouse and GE. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. in September, he and Mr. Obama agreed to set up a ‘contact group’ to work through the differences, and even named both private U.S. companies in their joint statement, hoping to “advance dialogue to discuss all implementation issues … for nuclear parks including power plants with Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi technology.”

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