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Sep 19, 2013 at 10:32pm IST

Controversy erupts over Indo-US nuke deal ahead of PM's visit to Washington

New Delhi: A controversy has erupted over the Indo-US nuclear deal ahead of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington next week. Sources have told CNN-IBN that the Cabinet Committee on Security is all set to clear a deal between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and American company Westinghouse, which also entails changing the nuclear liability laws.

The changes would allow NPCIL but not the government to decide on recourse to courts in case of an accident. The rules already cap liability to 5 years. It would be effected for the United States deal and then be applicable for deals with Russia and France.

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The Opposition is in uproar after reports that first appeared in The Hindu accused the PM of a sellout in order to seal the deal.

"If the government of India wants to succumbs to the US pressure, I am afraid they will be shown to have done something illegal and against the interest of the country," said CPI leader Prakash Karat.

"The PM who is on the verge of his departure from office after six months should not bypass Indian laws to try to show some trophy in far-away countries," said BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.

However, the government, under a pressure, has insisted that the changes in procedure won't affect India's strict liability laws in case of an accident like Fukushima or the Bhopal gas tragedy.

"We will go by the rule book, whatever nuclear liability law says we will go by that," said V Narayanasamy.

While External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid added, "Negotiations take place with the maximum and minimum position. There is a range of accommodation, there is legitimate, acceptable and possible but you try to get the best bargain for yourself."

Meanwhile, as the government is explaining itself by saying that the changes will help deals with Russia and France as well as the US, it will find it difficult to why the decisions have come just before the PM's visit to the US next week.