Ending six years of a festering impasse, India and the US have ended their long-standing logjam by sealing administrative arrangements for implementing their pathbreaking nuclear deal, with the two sides agreeing on an insurance pool to address the liability issues.
The negotiations went down the wire, but were successfully concluded with a joint push from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama.
At a joint media interaction, both Mr Modi and Mr Obama looked upbeat as they declared to scale up the India-US relations to new heights in days to come and also announced a breakthrough in the nuclear deal negotiations.
“The civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship, which demonstrated new trust. It also created new economic opportunities and expanded our option for clean energy. In the course of the past four months, we have worked with a sense of purpose to move it forward,” said Mr Modi. “I am pleased that six years after we signed our bilateral agreement, we are moving towards commercial cooperation, consistent with our law, our international legal obligations, and technical and commercial viability,” he added.
“In the last few months, I see new excitement and confidence in this relationship. I see renewed energy in our engagement,” an upbeat Modi said, while underlining personal chemistry and bonding he has developed with President Obama since he met him first in September 2014 in the White House.
Mr Obama also spoke about a breakthrough in the nuclear deal.
The setting up of an insurance pool proved to be a game-changing move that helped address the US’ concerns over India’s nuclear liability. After tortuous negotiations, the two sides agreed on the Rs 1500 crore (around $250 million) insurance pool as part of risk management strategy for both suppliers and operators.
“We have broken the logjam over the nuclear deal… The deal is done,” India’s Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh confirmed in a separate interaction with the media.
Sujatha Singh indicted that the personal push by the two leaders played a pivotal role in wrapping up the big deal. “The political leadership played a key role. There was a clear intention to reinvigorate the relationship,” she said.
Amandeep Gill, joint secretary (disarmament) in India’s ministry of external affairs, disclosed the details of the insurance pool. “The insurance pool or what would be called the India Nuclear Insurance Pool is a risk transfer mechanism which is being formed by GICRE and four other public sector undertakings in the general insurance business in India. These companies would together contribute Rs.750 crore to the pool and the balance capacity would be contributed by the government on a tapering basis,”
“It is similar to 26 such international pools around the world. The details, for example, of the premiums are being worked out. And the United States has committed to work with India to share information and best practices on the formation of this insurance pool. The important thing for you to note is that this is a complete risk management solution for both operators and suppliers without causing undue financial burden,” said Mr Gill.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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