'US to ensure N-liability doesn't become irritant'



Washington: The US would make sure that the issue of nuclear liability does not become an irritant in its relationship with India, a top State Department official has said.

"It is not yet an irritant, but we want to make sure that it doesn't become an irritant. We're getting now to the end game in this whole process," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told reporters at a news conference held yesterday at the Foreign Press Center.

He said that India was committed to bringing its liability regime into conformance with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation

"India is committed now to ratify the CSC by the end of the year, and it's also committed to bringing its liability regime into conformance with the CSC. So how it does that is very, very important," he said.

"We want to be sure that having expended so much of our own political capital in getting the civil nuclear deal through beginning in 2005 and getting our own 123 agreement approved by our Congress and then by the entire NSG.

"....We want to be sure that our companies are going to benefit from this and that Indian companies are going to benefit from this. Indian companies themselves have a lot of concerns now about the liability regime." Blake said.

During her recent trip to India, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underlined the importance of US companies working closely together, and also, working closely with the IAEA to make sure that whatever measures India takes to bring its liability regime into conformance, are really going to have the support of the IAEA and the guidance of the IAEA, he said.

Blake said, Clinton during her India trip stressed the importance of completing the civil nuclear deal and resolving the remaining issues so that the US and Indian companies can reap the benefits from the enormous efforts that they have expended on getting civil nuclear cooperation to move forward.

"The Secretary reaffirmed our interest in seeing India ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, and we have every indication that India intends to do so. She also urged India to engage with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, to ensure that India's nuclear liability regime is conforming fully with the CSC. That will be a continuing subject of conversation in the next several months," Blake said.

PTI