India,US reach confidentiality pact

A top government source said the confidentiality agreement was “done a week or two ago” between the two sides.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: September 21, 2013 1:11 am

India and the US sewed up a confidentiality agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited and US firm Westinghouse earlier this month,setting the stage for the signing of an early works agreement in Washington next week.

A top government source said the confidentiality agreement was “done a week or two ago” between the two sides. This agreement binds India from disclosing any of the proprietary information related to Westinghouse’s nuclear technology,as well as prevents Indian nuclear scientists to “reverse engineer” their patented technology. Sources said the information falls under the “intellectual property” of Westinghouse,which are largely technical in nature. Giving an example,a source said the information could be like the design of the Westinghouse nuclear reactors which has the ability to withstand earthquakes.

The confidentiality agreement is an important pre-cursor to the early works agreement on civil nuclear cooperation,which is expected to be signed between NPCIL and Westinghouse,when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits the US next week. Sources said it will be a commercial agreement,with no elaborate signing ceremony in the presence of Singh and US President Barack Obama.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said,“Civil nuclear projects in India would naturally be subject to Indian laws including civil liability.” He said India’s stand has consistently been that “whatever nuclear power parts are imported,they should meet the highest standards of safety and deliver power at competitive prices”.

Asked if the US was in agreement with the Indian liability law,Menon said,“It is not just the US,our Indian domestic suppliers and other foreign partners all ask questions how does this law work. How will it apply and they need to know to do business.”

He said the government was “in the process of addressing these questions with them individually and as a whole so that we also have clarity”.

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