U.S. won’t reopen Bhopal gas leak probe, says US envoy Robert Blake



Narayan Lakshman

Washington: The U.S. government virtually ruled out any further review of the investigation into the Bhopal industrial disaster of 1984, and in particular refused to discuss the extradition of American citizen Warren Anderson, CEO of the company behind the leak of poisonous gasses that led to the death of many thousands of people.

Speaking to the media here, shortly after a Bhopal court announced the conviction of seven accused, Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said: “Let me just say that we hope this verdict helps to bring some closure to the victims and their families. But I do not expect this verdict to reopen any new inquiries or anything like that.”

Mr. Blake underscored the U.S.’ unwillingness to take the matter any further at its end, saying, “On the contrary, we hope that this is going to help to bring closure.” However, he acknowledged, “With respect to Bhopal, obviously that was one of the greatest industrial tragedies and industrial accidents in human history.” He also said that the announcement made by the Indian courts was “an internal matter to India.”In response to a question whether the U.S. would be more receptive to any request for extradition of Mr. Anderson or other American officials connected with the Bhopal disaster, Mr. Blake said, “On the question of extradition – as a matter of policy we never discuss extradition, so I cannot comment on that.”

Mr. Blake also did not comment on a question whether the U.S. would be willing to exert pressure on Dow Chemicals for compensation to victims, as the administration is currently doing in the case of British Petroleum and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley struck a relatively positive note, saying, “Our economies are increasingly closely connected. So I certainly would hope that this particular case does not inhibit the continuing expansion of economic, cultural, and political ties between our two countries.”

He added, “We fully expect that this will not be the case.”

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