WASHINGTON: The US hopes that American firms would participate in India's nuclear projects as the two sides have reached "sufficient understanding" on the liability issue, days after India made it clear that foreign suppliers of reactors cannot be sued by the victims in case of a mishap.
"We believe that we've reached a sufficient understanding, and I think this process will continue. We are hopeful that it will lead to our companies having their concerns addressed and being able to participate in India," said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor at the White House.
Rhodes was responding to questions on clarification issued by the Indian government on the recently agreed understanding between India and the US on the liability clause of the landmark civil nuclear agreement.
A seven-page 'frequently asked questions' dealing with contentious issues including liability, compensation and right of recourse in case of nuclear mishap was issued by India's External Affairs Ministry on Sunday.
The ministry said the understanding on the policy hurdles were reached after three rounds of discussions between the Indo-US Nuclear Contact Group, which met last in London, just three days before President Barack Obama visited New Delhi on January 25.
"As we said on the trip (President Barack Obama's recent India visit), companies are going to make their own judgements. They're going to look at the liability pool; they're going to look at India's clarifications of its laws," said Rhodes, who accompanied Obama on his trip to India last month.
"I think this is a sign of an effort to continue to move forward and using the breakthrough to try to open the space to resolve the concerns of US businesses so that they can participate in the Indian nuclear industry," he said.
Rhodes, who is considered close to the US President, said after returning from India, the Obama Administration has briefed American companies on the new understanding they reached with the Indian government on issue.
The resolution between the two governments on the civil nuclear issue was a key part of the successful Obama visit to India, he said.
Rhodes said that the US had encouraged the Indian government to make information available about the nature of the understandings as part of its ongoing engagement with companies "so that people could have a clear understanding of what the way forward is".
"We have also been able to consult with our companies and brief them on the ongoing discussions that we've had through the contact group with India," Rhodes said.