VIENNA - INDIA on Wednesday signed an international convention governing liability in case of nuclear accidents, a move sought by Washington so as to pave the way for US firms to enter India's civil nuclear market.

With just a week to go before US President Barack Obama's landmark visit to India, the International Atomic Energy Agency said New Delhi's ambassador to Austria and to the IAEA, Dinkar Khullar, signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) at a brief ceremony at the UN watchdog's headquarters in Vienna.

The CSC - which dates back to September 1997 - seeks to establish a uniform global legal regime for the compensation of victims in the event of a nuclear accident.

India hopes that signing the convention will allay some of the concerns of US companies about New Delhi's own recently-passed nuclear liability law which gives the right to seek damages from plant suppliers if there is an accident.

Two years ago, the United States and India signed an agreement to open the way for cooperation in nuclear energy, a landmark step for the world's two largest democracies, which had prickly relations during the Cold War.

In hopes of meeting companies' concerns, India's parliament recently approved legislation to spell out their liabilities in the event of an accident, but some critics say the bill will instead discourage investment. A clause in the legislation allows nuclear power plant operators to pursue suppliers of equipment, raw materials and services for 80 years after the construction of any plant in the event of an accident.

India signs nuke liability pact