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US hopeful of India signing CSC global convention


New Delhi: Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit, the US is hoping that India will sign a key global convention so that the civil nuclear liability legislation will be consistent with international norms and enable the start of nuclear commerce between the two countries.

Speaking to reporters, senior US government officials Monday said the US was hoping for “a (nuclear liability) legislation that is consistent with international norms”.

“We are hopeful that the outcome is consistent with international norms so that they can lead to nuclear transactions between the two countries,” said officials, who did not wish to be named.

India’s signing up to the CSC (Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage), a global treaty that gives India access to global funds in case of a nuclear accident, will be a “positive step”, said officials.

They added that the two sides are trying to “resolve differences”, over issues relating to civil liability legislation so that the US companies can begin nuclear business with India.

Senior officials also admitted that India’s participation in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has been “under discussions”, but added that New Delhi’s membership in the nuclear cartel will have to be agreed to by all NSG members by consensus. “We need the approval of others,” said sources.

US officials also indicated that there would be some positive movement on lifting restrictions on high-technology exports to India.

US nuclear suppliers are understood to have conveyed that the existing Indian legislation would leave them exposed to potentially unlimited claims for damages by Indian victims in the case of an atomic accident involving US-supplied reactors.

Issues relating to civil nuclear liability and India’s prospects for joining the NSG are set to figure in discussions between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when they meet here Nov 8 for talks.

Obama begins his four-day visit to India, his longest state visit to a foreign country after taking over as president, from Mumbai on the evening of Nov 6.