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Iran Press TV

Obama claims to 'reach nuclear breakthrough' with India

Iran Press TV

Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:33PM

US President Barack Obama says he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have reached a landmark agreement to unlock billions of dollars in nuclear trade and to deepen defense ties, as Obama begins a three-day visit to the Asian country.

At a joint press conference with Modi in New Delhi on Sunday, Obama said they reached 'a breakthrough understanding' on the civil nuclear agreement that would allow US companies to establish reactors in India.

Washington and New Delhi reached an understanding on the nuclear investment in 2008, but they were at an impasse over the project implementation.

'We are committed to moving towards full implementation,' said Obama, standing side by side with Modi at the stately Hyderabad House. 'This is an important step that shows how we can work together to elevate our relationship.'

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma told reporters that the two countries have resolved the differences over the liability of suppliers to India in the case of a nuclear accident and other issues.

'Ultimately it's up to the companies to go forward, but the two governments came to an understanding,' he added.

The White House said the deal allays Washington's concerns on both tracking the whereabouts of nuclear material supplied to India and liability.

'In our judgment, the Indians have moved sufficiently on these issues to give us assurances are resolved,' said US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.

The 2008 nuclear deal between Washington and New Delhi was stalled over India's reluctance to shield US companies from liability, a deviation from international norms that reflects the painful memories of the Bhopal industrial disaster.

More than half a million people were poisoned in the industrial disaster, which was caused by a deadly gas leak at a pesticide manufacturing plant run by the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) in Bhopal on December 2, 1984.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 people were reportedly killed within the first three days of the incident and another 8,000 or more have lost their lives from gas-related diseases ever since.

Earlier on Sunday, the Indian prime minister broke with established protocol to personally welcome the US president and his wife at the airport in New Delhi.

The trip comes amid unprecedented security and tight traffic restrictions. About 40,000 security personnel have been deployed in the Indian capital along some 15,000 cameras.

On Saturday, Indian activists held a rally in New Delhi in protest at Obama's visit.

The demonstrators chanted anti-US slogans and burned the effigy of the US leader, while shouting, 'Barack Obama, Hands off India.'

They argued that Obama's trip seeks Washington's domination in economic, nuclear and defense ties with New Delhi.

GJH/GJH



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