Washington: Despite reservations in the US on the issue of nuclear liability, some American companies are keen to move ahead on atomic cooperation with India and have been in touch with Indian atomic energy authorities, outgoing Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar has said.

In her last media interview before leaving the post after more than two and half years of serving as India's top envoy in  the US, Shankar conceded that issues have emerged from both sides as far as nuclear trade is concerned, most notable being those on the issue of nuclear liability. But, she exuded confidence that the two countries would be able to find a way forward on nuclear cooperation.

"US companies have expressed some concerns at the nuclear liability legislation that was adopted in India. And we have explained to them this law does not actually introduce unlimited liability," Shankar told.

She pointed out that India has also signed the convention on supplementary compensation, which is an international convention and has publicly committed to ratify it in 2011.
“The Department of Atomic Energy is currently engaged in drafting nuclear regulations under the liability law," she said. "But some of the US companies are keen to explore the possibilities of moving ahead and they have been in touch with our Department of Atomic Energy," Shankar said.

Shankar, who retired on July 30, said these are "complex projects" but the two sides are persistent and hope to see their hard work yielding results. "We feel this provides us sufficient framework to move ahead.

There have also been some lingering bureaucratic procedures which we need to work through on the US side, for instance the 810 assurances, which they did and now there is still little bit left," Shankar said.

The 810 assurances refer to a mechanism whereby the Indian government needs to give assurances of non-diversion or non-proliferation of dual-use technology by Indian private sector companies, for American firms to get an 810 license allowing them to export dual use technology.

India has already identified two nuclear sites for building nuclear power plants in cooperation with US companies -- one in Gujarat, another in Andhra Pradesh. "So we are in the process to facilitate specific concrete projects with the US. But as I said these are discussions and negotiations that are complex, because they involve, technology, safety, security and we hope that the companies will proceed with negotiations in this field," Shankar said.

Responding to questions on Pakistan, Shankar said both countries have an interest in seeing a stable moderate and peaceful Pakistan and in eliminating the terrorist havens in the region.

"So in that sense you could say that there is a broad similarity of objective. The US itself has conducted operations against terrorist safe havens in Pakistan including drone attacks," she said.

"Of course from our point of view, we have continued our dialogue with Pakistan with a view to seeking a future which is more secure and building a relationship which is on a more even keel between the two countries," she said. "This is the commitment which our Prime Minister has .and which we have been working towards," Shankar said.

(Agencies)