India and Russia have resolved their differences over the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and highly placed Russian government sources.
In fact, Dr. Singh was confident of “going ahead'' with Unit I of the Russia-supplied Kudankulam plant in a “couple of weeks.'' The second one should follow after six months, he said at a joint press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev here on Friday.
Separately, highly placed sources in the Russian nuclear energy sector said the two sides had sorted out their differences over the setting up of the next two units, and “maybe, more.” The sources claimed that the nuclear liability legislation, the bone of contention between the two sides, would not apply to these units as well.
“There can be no question about it: the original agreement on Units 1 and 2 at Kudankulam apply to Units 3 and 4, as well as to any additional reactors that may be put up on the site,” the sources said.
Dr. Singh seemed to endorse this observation. “The two sides have concluded negotiations and agreed on the terms and conditions for the Russian credit for Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam nuclear power project. We look forward to moving ahead with the road map for cooperation in the nuclear energy sector, which we signed in 2010,'' he said.
The road map he was referring to was about the setting up at least a dozen reactors based on Russian technology. India has so far demurred, claiming that funds are released on the basis of projections made in the Five-Year Plans and, therefore, it was difficult to make commitments far into the future.
“Kudankulam I and II are at an advanced stage and are very close to being operational. There were some temporary problems and some agitation arising from concerns about nuclear safety and the impact on livelihood. We will overcome those problems and ensure that the concerns are adequately taken care of…that's a commitment India and Russia will honour…I am confident that within a couple of weeks we will go ahead with operationalising Kudankulam I,” the Prime Minister said at the news conference.
The Russian sources made it clear that Moscow's proposal to New Delhi to set up a joint facility for production of nuclear fuel on the Russian soil would not lead to transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to India.
“Russia will not under any circumstances violate its international commitments in this sphere,” the sources said referring to the Nuclear Suppliers Group's ban on sale of sensitive nuclear technologies to countries that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
A joint statement released later noted that negotiations for Units 3 and 4 were at an advanced stage and the two sides “reiterated their commitment to the agreements reached previously on the construction of Russian design nuclear plants at “new sites'' in India.
On Russian insistence, India agreed to place an order for 42 Sukhois that will include replacements for the two crashed fighters.
India and Russia also concluded negotiations on obtaining military and strategic communications from the Glonass constellation of satellites being put into orbit by Moscow as an alternative to the West-controlled GPS system.