The long awaited Indo-US civil nuclear deal is likely to be implemented next year as most of the pre-requisites of the historic agreement have either already happened or are likely to materialise soon, a top American diplomat has said.
“I am actually confident that we are going to be moving more aggressively towards implementation (of the civil nuclear deal) in 2016,” US Ambassador to India Richard Verma told a group of Indian journalists in Washington.
Verma also told a Washington audience that “there will be a lot of progress on the civil nuclear deal in the first half of 2016”.
The India-US contact group, which was set up in January, last met in Washington in November.
“We had positive discussions with the nuclear arm of the Indian government,” Verma said in response to a question at the Brookings Institute, a top American think-tank.
“Even in the last two months, I was in Mumbai to have those discussions. We are working very hard on its implementation. It’s not enough to say we reached an understanding on liability,” he added.
The implementation is the key, the Ambassador asserted.
“We really have had good discussions with Department of Atomic Energy, with NPCIL and with the Prime Minister’s office. Everyone wants to see the deal move towards implementation,” Verma said when asked about the long pending implementation of the nuclear deal, under which US companies are expected to establish nuclear power plants in the country.
“Remember there were somethings still outstanding on the Indian side. One of them was ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, one was making sure the insurance pool was up and running so there was patch work of things that was to reoccur. So frankly they have occurred or will occur shortly,” Verma said, exuding confidence that 2016 would be the year if implementation of the nuclear deal.
The Ambassador noted that nuclear power is not fast in terms of time lines.
“The notion of building a nuclear reactor is a long term process. That’s not an excuse. That’s a reality. So it’s a multi-year effort,” he said.
“What I am suggesting is that the path towards commercial contracts and actual development would continue,” he said in response to a question.
After India had passed domestic nuclear liability law in 2010, the foreign suppliers of nuclear reactors including the US had expressed concerns over what they interpreted as unlimited financial burden under the legislation.