India-Russia nuclear pact deferred

Publish date: November 15, 2007

The stalemate of India-U.S. nuclear deal has deferred an agreement for Russia to build four more reactors in India, but it is not the end of civil-nuclear cooperation between the two countries, the Indo-Asia News Service (IANS) reported.

The inter-governmental agreement, which both sides have been working for months, has not been signed during the Indian prime minister’s two-day visit to Russia. This is because Russia can not unilaterally go ahead with the project without a rule change in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in favour of India, said the IANS.

Indian prime-minister Manmohan and the Russian President Vladimir Putin had one very important discussion about the nuclear deal and the aborted intergovernmental agreement on four additional reactors for Kudankulam.  The PM explained that India wanted a "full and clear" exemption from Nuclear Suppliers Group and was not willing to sign individual nuclear deals with different countries, which, it felt, could have higher costs in the long run. For that, Singh said, the UPA government was trying to convince the Left parties to allow them to get an IAEA safeguards agreement which was necessary before approaching the NSG for an "across the board" exemption. Putin agreed. "I recognise you have a problem," he said. Russia would wait, he said, until an NSG exemption.

    "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 chill 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," Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said.

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

    Atomstroy export, Russia’s nuclear power equipment and service export organization, started building the Kudankulam plant in 2002 under an agreement signed by India and the then Soviet Union in 1988 on building 2,000 MW power plant. An addendum was signed 10 years later, IANS reported.