Washington: American companies cannot have nuclear agreements in India unless the new government resolves the liability issue even though India represents phenomenal partnership opportunity for US firms, a top American expert has said.
"There will not be nuclear deals in India unless and until the civil nuclear liability issue is resolved. And I am heartened that the Modi administration is beginning to come to terms with reform of liability. That would truly open up that market to US reactor vendors in a big way," Daniel Lipman, executive director of Supplier Programmes at the Nuclear Energy Institute told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.
At the hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on "The Future of International Civilian Nuclear Cooperation," Lipman said India has plans to put out up to 50 nuclear reactors over the coming 30 years.
"But there are currently agreements in place and reactor deals that have been consummated with the Russians. At Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu) there are operating reactors of Russian design and there is a new set of units that have just been consummated with the Russians. Plus the French are in there," he said.
"We need this civil nuclear liability protection. I`m certain that American companies just will not put their companies at risk," Lipman said.
"What`s interesting, it`s not just American companies that get hurt. My view is so do Indian companies get hurt.”
"Now, why is that? I think there are many American companies that would like to leverage the fact that there are English-speaking, highly technically trained, very capable engineers and manufacturers in the country of India, but they`re not going to partner with them until this liability issue is put behind us," he added.
"So to me, India represents phenomenal partnership opportunity for American nuclear companies," Lipman argued at the Congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, which enables operator of nuclear power plants in India to seek partial compensation from suppliers in case of accidents, is hampering projects in the country.
Suppliers of nuclear equipment from the US, Canada and other countries see the Nuclear Damage Act as a hurdle in selling nuclear reactors to India.