India and Russia have signed an agreement on the civilian use of nuclear power, which is not restrictive like the ‘123 Deal’ with the United States.
The signing of the civilian nuclear deal between India and Russia is set to take the civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries to new heights. According to Indian officials, with the pact in place, India is “virtually assured of a disruption-proof supply of nuclear fuel and nuclear technology for the future.”
The agreement – signed by India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev – also gives Russia contracts to build 12-14 nuclear reactors in India.
Thus, India has become the key partner of Russia in the area civil nuclear power.
Sergei Kirienko, chief of Rosatom, Russia’ State Atomic Energy Corporation, said India is the “key destination” for Russia’s foreign contracts. Indian and Russia, Kirienko added, are finalising a commercial contract to construct 12-14 Russian-designed nuclear reactors at 2 sites in India.
Of these, 4 reactors will be built at the Koodankulam power plant in Tamil Nadu, where Russia has almost completed building two 1,000-megawatt units. Another 4 to 6 reactors will be constructed at the Haripur site in West Bengal.
Sergei Kirienko said the Russian nuclear reactors would be constructed using an advanced “flow-line technology” which will cut costs by 25%-30% and also reduce the construction time of each unit by 2 years.
Under the flow-line technology, work on 4 nuclear reactors will start simultaneously, instead of each unit being constructed separately. This, according to Sergei Kirienko, will bring down the construction time of each unit from 6 years to 4 years, as well as make possible commissioning of one unit every year. India’s nuclear deal with Canada is not signed yet.
Meanwhile, reports say that the civilian nuclear pact between Indian and Russia has made companies in the United States uneasy as procedural issues are still making their entry into India impossible.
A “nuclear mission” consisting of around 50 United States-based companies is reportedly meeting officials in the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi as well as the Ministries and Ministers concerned in an attempt to find out the “policy challenges” that keep the US firms away from India.
In related news, the French Parliament recently approved the India-France civil nuclear agreement unanimously.