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India ratifies Convention of Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, 1997

India ratified the Convention of Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, 1997, marking an important step in addressing matters related to civil nuclear liabilities.

India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative in Vienna, Austria, Rajiva Misra, handed over the Instrument of Ratification to Acting Director General of nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Juan Carlos Lentijo. IAEA is the depositary of the said Convention.

The Convention will come into force for India 90 days from the date of deposit of the ratification instrument, which is May 4, 2016.

This marks a conclusive step in the addressing of issues related to civil nuclear liability in India, marked earlier by the release of FAQs on Civil Nuclear Liability in February 2015 and the launch of the India Nuclear Insurance Pool (INIP) in June 2015.

Timeline:

  • In 2010 India had signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), which sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability, at the IAEA in Vienna.
  • In 2014, India had ratified the Additional Protocols of the IAEA, a move that put its reactors under international safeguards.
  • In February, 2016, India ratified the Convention of Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, 1997.

Advantages of ratification of CSC by India:

  1. The move will help establish a worldwide liability regime of enhanced compensation for nuclear damages.
  2. It will help India in addressing the concerns of foreign nuclear suppliers over civil nuclear liability in India, especially with regard to Section 17(b) and Section 46 of India’s Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act, 2010. (NOTE: Section 17(b) relates to the Right of Recourse and Section 46 deals with potential claims against the supplier of nuclear equipment.). This will attract foreign suppliers to tap India’s large nuclear market.
  3. It will give India access to international funding, beyond those available through national resources, to pay for damages in the event of a nuclear accident. In 2015, India has already launched an insurance pool a liability cap of 15 billion Indian rupees (225 million dollars) to cover the suppliers’ risk of potential liability.

CSC

  • It is a multilateral treaty relating to liability and compensation for damage caused by a nuclear accident.
  • It was adopted on September 12, 1997, and opened for signature that same month; it will enter into force on the 90th day after the date of ratification by at least five States that have an installed nuclear capacity of a minimum 400,000 units.
  • India was the fourteenth signatory state to the treaty.
  • The Convention
  1. Sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability
  2. Provides for compensation to victims in cases where a nuclear accident has transnational implications
  3. Stipulates the establishment of an international fund to increase the amount available for compensation of victims.
  4. Allows compensation for civil damage occurring within a state’s exclusive economic zone, including damage resulting from the loss of tourism or fishery-related income.
  • In addition, the Convention
  1. Sets parameters on the financial liability of nuclear operators,
  2. Stipulates time limits for possible legal action,
  3. Requires that nuclear operators maintain insurance or other instruments of financial security, and
  4. Provides for jurisdiction and applicable law in the event of a nuclear incident.
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