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‘Indian govt, firms need to set pace of N-deal implementation’

Nisha Desai Biswal

Washington: Nearly nine months after the “breakthrough understanding” on India-US civil nuclear deal was achieved, a top Indian-American official has said that now it is up to Indian government entities and private companies to set the pace for the historic agreement’s implementation.

“What remains is the commercial negotiations on what is the business proposition that companies can move forward on. And that is going to move forward on its own pace,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said.

Noting that discussions are proceeding between US firms and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and other relevant entities, Biswal said the US is encouraged that they are continuing to pursue those negotiations and discussions.

“It is going to follow the pace that the business/ commercial side pursues and it is going to be for the business and companies to manage the pace of that,” she said in response to a question.

“Would we like to see its conclusion and its implementation? Of course, we would. But we understand that this is a very complex undertaking, both for the government of India and for the companies to move forward,” Biswal said.

According to Biswal, the breakthrough understanding, that were achieved during President Barack Obama’s unprecedented Republic Day visit this year, removed policy constraints in trying to address critical pieces such as ensuring India was committed to and consistent with international conventions on liability and the international convention on supplementary compensation.

“India’s affirmation that its clause were consistent and its commitment that it would seek to ratify the CSC was a very important issue on addressing the concerns on liability. The understandings that were achieved with respect to tracking of fissile material were very important in addressing those concerns,” she said.

Biswal said ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) would be a very important signal.

“The insurance pool are angling forward and that has been a very important aspect, but now it is really going to be about pulling together the commercial deal that can move,” she said.

“That is going to be through private negotiations in which the US government has no role,” Biswal said.

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