Need to keep working on parts of Indo-US nuclear deal: Powell

Mumbai: Noting that there is a need to keep working on parts of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell hoped Americans would be able to compete on a level playing field for creation of nuclear energy projects in India.

“We need to celebrate parts of it (deal) and we need to keep working on parts of it,” Powell said when asked to comment on the “big hoopla” that was created (over the deal) during President George W Bush?s time and if we should be celebrating yet.

The Ambassador was speaking at an interaction organised by the Asia Society here last night.

“The part for the Americans that we need to keep, I would say there are two parts we need to keep working on. Our hope was that India would join many of the international agreements that were on trade and nuclear technology and products. That hasn’t happened yet. It is in process. It is moving a little more slowly than we hoped but it is a part of what we would have hoped would come out of the civilian nuclear deal.”

“The other piece is the hope that Americans would be able to compete on a level playing field for creation of nuclear energy in projects in India. And there are some things that I still think are in the way, they are roadblocks. They are not great big skyscraper tall walls but they are (still) roadblocks. And we would like to get them down, at least the speed bumps initially and then get the surface flattened out,” she said.

Powell said these are “some very technical agreements that we hope can conclude in the next few months over the nuclear regulatory people that are here in Mumbai and in this area.”

“The second piece is dealing with the liability issue. American nuclear energy is run by private sector. Those companies with their boards of directors look at what liabilities they would accept in taking a deal and right now the legislation as drafted is not where the international standard is,” Powell said.

“That is our companies’ view and we are trying to make sure that they are comfortable with the legislation that governs operations and suppliers and operators in India, before they are willing to take on that kind of huge, big capital investments in projects,” she said.