Talks between India and the United States aimed at reviving a civil nuclear agreement between the two countries have reportedly hit a roadblock following a specific demand by the U.S. to "flag rights in perpetuity" for any material or equipment used in a U.S.-built reactor, The Times of India reported Friday.
According to the newspaper, the U.S. is insisting on rights to continuously monitor the use of any material or equipment in a U.S.-built reactor even if it is sourced from a third country. In November, it was reported that the U.S. was demanding the “tracking of nuclear fuel through the entire cycle,” but the latest report may be significant coming as it does barely two days ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, which begins on Sunday. The civil nuclear deal between the two countries has been in limbo since it came into effect in 2008.
It was in July 2005 that the framework for a civil-nuclear agreement was first broached between the two countries, in a joint statement between the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former U.S. President George W. Bush. The text of the final agreement was released in August 2007 and approved by the U.S. Congress in October 2008. Under the deal, the U.S. offered India full civil nuclear cooperation after the latter agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities, and open up its civilian reactors to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Since then, however, the deal has remained largely unfruitful owing primarily to liability clauses imposed by a 2010 Indian legislation that has been a stumbling block in the way of several other countries, including the U.S., looking to sell nuclear reactors to India.
The nuclear contact group was created to expedite cooperation on the deal after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama met in Washington in September last year.