India and Russia have sealed a breakthrough long-term pact for expanding civil nuclear cooperation that is free from any restrictions on India and guarantees it against any curbs in the future.
Under the agreement signed on Monday during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow, Russia will set up more nuclear reactors in India, transfer the full range of nuclear energy technologies and ensure uninterrupted supply of fuel.
“Today we have signed an agreement which broadens the reach of our co-operation beyond the supply of nuclear reactors to areas of research and development and a whole range of areas of nuclear energy,” Dr. Singh told a joint press conference in the Kremlin.
He described the nuclear deal as a “major step forward in strengthening our existing cooperation in this field.”
The nuclear pact with Russia goes far beyond the bounds of the 123 pact with the U.S., which calls for the termination of ongoing nuclear cooperation and for the return to the U.S. of equipment and fuel already supplied to India in the event of the nuclear agreement being terminated.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made it clear Russia will not accept any foreign-imposed restrictions on its nuclear cooperation with India.
Asked whether Russia will continue unrestricted nuclear cooperation with India despite the G8 resolution restricting the sale of reprocessing technologies to non-NPT countries, Mr. Medvedev said: “That [resolution] does not change anything in our cooperation. It has a great future.”
The Russian atomic energy chief for his part said the issue of nuclear technology restrictions had never come up in Russia’s cooperation with India.
“We do not have and never had this problem with India. This is an issue between India and the U.S., so let them sort it out,” Russian nuclear energy Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko told reporters after the summit.
Mr. Kirienko suggested that Russia could eventually supply up to 20 nuclear reactors to India.
“We will build a total of six reactors at Kudankulam, another four to six reactors at the new site in West Bengal, and may well get a third site to build still more reactors ,” Mr. Kirienko said.
He specified that as per India’s request the additional four reactors Russia will set up at Kudankulam will be of the same VVER-1000 type as the two units already installed at the plant, whereas for other sites Russia may supply the next generation reactors of the VVER-1200 type that produce 1200 MWe of electricity.