No additional Russian reactors yet for India

By Manish Chand, IANS

On Board Air India One : The stalling of the India-US nuclear deal has put in cold storage an agreement on Russia building four more additional reactors in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, but it’s not the end of civil nuclear cooperation between the “time-tested friends”, a top Indian official said Sunday.

Support TwoCircles

“We are in the process of discussing an inter-governmental agreement on building four more reactors in Kudankulam. We look forward to expanding civil nuclear cooperation with Russia,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters aboard the prime minister’s special aircraft on way to Moscow.

India and Russia signed a protocol of intent for building four additional light water reactors at Kudankulam during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in January.

But the inter-governmental agreement, which both sides have been working on for months, will not be signed Monday after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Putin. This is because Russia can’t unilaterally go ahead with the project without a rule change in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in favour of India.

Manmohan Singh arrived in Moscow later on a two-day visit, a part of the annual engagement process between the two countries at the summit level.

“It is for the NSG members to decide. Their obligation comes from that. We are looking forward to expanding civil nuclear cooperation with other members of the international community,” Menon said, while repudiating speculation about any setback in India-Russia ties.

“The original agreement in 1988 doesn’t provide for more than two reactors. The additional reactor cannot be considered part of the 1988 pact,” Menon clarified.

Atomstroyexport, Russia’s nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, started building the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu in 2002. India and the then Soviet Union signed an agreement in 1988 on building a 2,000 MW power plant at Kudankulam. An addendum was signed 10 years later.

“It is a working process. We hope to be able to get over whatever problems are on the way,” National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said.