| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Feb 13 U.S. firms are getting "very
restless" over procedural delays in implementing a civilian
nuclear deal with India when the United States is gripped by a
severe economic crisis, the American ambassador to India said
Last year's multi-billion dollar deal has got bogged down
by issues such as accident liability protection for U.S.
companies which have lobbied hard for a slice of India's
lucrative nuclear market.
Former U.S. President George Bush signed the agreement with
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the face of domestic critics
who said it violated the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The deal, which will give India access to high-end
technology and nuclear fuel for its reactors, brought India out
of 30 years of nuclear isolation.
But the Indian government has so far only allocated sites
for the construction of nuclear installations to France and
Both those governments shield their companies from
liability for an industrial accident, unlike the United States,
and American companies want New Delhi to help lift the burden.
"Two other countries have already been given sites and the
American industry is getting very restless about the delay
because they're anxious to get going," Ambassador David Mulford
said at a conference in New Delhi.
Mulford made the case for a speedy implementation of the
deal saying it would not only help India meet its growing
energy needs but help the United States economy create jobs at
a time when it was "suffering very, very severely".
"I think it's important that India should also think about
how this investment initiative could help the United States
economy, which India would like to see recover because it's one
of the engines of growth in the world," he said.
India signed a pact earlier in February opening up its
civilian nuclear plants to U.N. inspections as a condition of
India, which relies on imported oil for some 70 percent of
its energy needs, says the nuclear supply pact will help feed
energy demands in its expanding economy, while helping combat
global warming linked to fossil fuel emissions.
It could bring in around $27 billion in investment over the
next 15 years, says the Confederation of Indian Industry, and
is expected to double nuclear power's share in India's
electricity grid to 5-7 percent in the next two decades.
(Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Jerry Norton)