India Succumbs to US Pressure, Accedes CSC Pact for Nuclear Liability
As Obama visit to India is approaching, attempts to dilute nuclear damage liability bill passed by the Indian parliament are speeded up from the US side. India signed on October 27 an international treaty on civil nuclear liability under pressure from the US.
Indian Parliament approved recently in August ‘nuclear damage liability bill’ with both ruling and opposition parties taking a unified stand supporting it. Though initial draft did not envisage any liability on suppliers of nuclear material and equipment, the final bill placed liability on suppliers too. However, there are several intermediary conditions to bring into effect the liability on the supplier countries or firms, while the bill places immediate liability of $320 million on the operator country i.e. India.
The US companies are averse to paying liabilities even though they supply substandard and damaged material and equipment due to which nuclear damages may occur. They fear that they will be forced to pay compensation as the US pressured BP to pay a whopping $32 billion for its oil spill in Gulf of Mexico. During deliberations between the ruling and opposition parties regarding passage of nuclear damage liability bill, the US companies lobbied heavily not to place any liability obligations on supplier countries, particularly the US and Japan. But the pressures did not work, as the Indian people were outraged against Bhopal gas leak judgment.
At the same time, the world witnessed two disastrous accidents on which the whole world has its attention, on what the outcome would be. One was the biggest ever oil spill in American history, in the offshore American west coast in Gulf of Mexico. The other one was that thirteen Chilean miners were not yet rescued from a collapsed mine whose videos and photos were published on every media on daily basis.
In this background, Indian parliamentarians could not deny to obligate supplier countries for the nuclear damage. Initially it was tried to insert a clause requiring the operator country to prove that the accidents if occur, are caused with willful intent of the supplier countries. The proposal was later rejected by the opposition BJP party. Even after the passage of the bill, the US government lobbied to exempt its companies from liability payment, however limited it would be.Continued on the next page