It is awaiting India's reply to proposal, says envoy
Russia is awaiting India's reply to its proposal for finding a way out of tough Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) rules on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) equipment and technology.
In combative mode, especially on American claims of doing all the heavy lifting to bring India into the nuclear commerce mainstream, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said, “We are the only country which has proposed a way out” after the NSG, in June this year, tightened rules on export of ENR equipment and technology.
Russia has offered to host an ENR unit on its soil and offered shares to India. This formula will enable Russia to “comply with its obligation to Indian friends and not violate international obligations with respect to non-proliferation,” Mr. Kadakin said at a curtain-raiser press conference ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's departure to Moscow a week later.
Of the three ENR majors, France has offered verbal comfort, the U.S. is non-committal and Russia has come up with this proposal after the NSG, despite hectic lobbying by India and Turkey, adopted new guidelines for export of sensitive nuclear technology this June.
“This dual approach will help us with strict international laws. I don't think the Americans have a proposal in this regard. We don't need their ABC of nuclear cooperation. We can write our ABC with India,” Mr. Kadakin said.
India has contested the strengthened NSG guidelines on sale of ENR technology to countries like itself that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. South Block has told India's civil nuclear allies that the 2008 exemption it received was a comprehensive one and should be unaffected by any changes adopted after that decision. If a comparison is made between the sanguineness shown by Mr. Kadakin two years ago and the observations he made on Wednesday, it is clear that a section of the nuclear non-proliferation hawks has tightened the screws on India. What is common is that at that time too, he was confident of both countries finding a way out if the guidelines were tightened.
During his press interaction, Mr. Kadakin reiterated the Russian desire for implementation of the road map to set up over a dozen civil nuclear reactors. He expressed the hope that the next two reactors planned for Kudankulam (in Tamil Nadu) would not come under the Liability Law which imposed additional costs on equipment suppliers. Kudankulam's first two units are out of the Liability Law because the agreements were signed much before it was even drafted.
As all other terms and conditions for Kudankulam III and IV were the same as for the first two units, no additional burden [which would happen if the Liability Law was applicable] should be imposed in any manner, Mr. Kadakin argued.
The envoy said India and Russia might sign up to nine agreements including in the fields of military, energy and trade during the Prime Minister's visit.