France on Thursday indicated that it was looking at the recent India-US understanding on resolving the liability issue in their civil nuclear commerce as a model to iron out its own differences with the Indian nuclear liability law.
“I think the elements which have been agreed (between India and the US) can be applied to other nations as well,” French Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister Laurent Fabius said in response to a query whether the India-US arrangement on nuclear liability could be a template for a similar arrangement between India and France as well.
India’s Civil Nuclear Liability law of 2010, while fixing the financial liability of a nuclear accident solely on the operator of the nuclear facility, has a provision wherein the operator has a right to recourse against the suppliers of nuclear equipments in the event that the accident is caused due to faulty equipment. With the US-based suppliers of nuclear equipments unable to arrange insurance to cover the risk, the planned nuclear power projects to be set up in India with US help had not been moving forward. During US President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi last month, the two countries decided to create an insurance pool to cover such risks and agreed to protect the suppliers from criminal liability.
France, which too is helping India in setting up nuclear power reactors, faces a similar kind of problem with regard to the liability law.
Fabius called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday and the nuclear liability issue figured in both the meetings. Modi is scheduled to visit France in April and the issue is likely to be resolved during that time, though Fabius said it was for India to take a call on that. “What Prime Minister Modi will say or do is for Mr Modi and India to decide,” he said.
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