New Kudankulam units put on ice

12 November 2007

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh suffered another setback to his nuclear power plans when Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to authorise export of four nuclear power plants to India.

Putin told Singh that a 1989 nuclear cooperation deal between them covered only the two units currently under construction, and that a memorandum of intent signed by the pair on 25 January foreshadowing four more Russian reactors at Kudankulam and more at new sites could not be firmed up. The pair spoke at a Moscow summit.

Many observers had expected motion on the deal today, but further plans could only be finalized after India completes its negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Putin said.

Other issues between India and Russia on the summit agenda were finance, national archives, tenders for military aircraft, and a potential joint lunar exploration mission.

US-India deal 'must be renegotiated'

Indian deals with the IAEA and NSG were also part of the plan to enable American nuclear cooperation with India, which recently stalled in the face of political opposition. They are necessary because India rejected the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and subsequently was excluded by nuclear trade rules developed after that. India-specific measures to guarantee the peaceful use of all imported technology must be developed.

A high-level US delegation meant to revive the US-India deal had little success. Despite meeting with leaders of the opposition
 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), US diplomats could not convince them to drop their opposition to language in the deal which would end it should India conduct a nuclear weapons test. The deal must be renegotiated, said the BJP, because energy is secondary to strategic security.

Further information 

WNA's Nuclear Power in India information paper

WNN: Diplomatic focus on India over 123 Agreement
WNN: Russia makes deals in India
WNN: INSIGHT BRIEFING: US Brings India in from the cold

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