Russia makes deals in India

24 January 2007

Russia will build four new reactors at Kudankulam, India, under a new Memordandum of Understanding (MoU) on nuclear trade.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's federal agency for nuclear energy (Rosato
m), conducted a lengthy visit to India, inspecting progress at the Kudankulam sit
e where Russian firms are constructing two 950 MWe VVER pressurised water reactors.

Kiriyenko noted the physical progress and the increase in cooperational effectiveness between Indian and Russian companies that has been effected in the nine months since his last visit. He announced that the first batch of nuclear fuel for unit 1 would be supplied by Russia in the second quarter of 2007. Russia has agreed to supply nuclear fuel throughout both the reactors' lifetimes.

In addition, it has been agreed that Russia would construct four more similar reactors at Kudankulam as well as more at other, new, sites. Details of those new projects has not yet been made available. That agreement was among a number signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on 25 January.

However, India is not a signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and so any nuclear deals would have been negotiated outside it. Normally, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) - of which Russia is a key member - confines nuclear trade to NPT signatories but India's record on non-proliferation has spurred countries like Australia, Russia and the USA to negotiate their own bilateral agreements to safeguard the use of nuclear materials and technology.

This important deal with Russia comes at a crucial time for India, as it discusses the text of a nuclear deal recently negotiated with the USA. The text of that document has been signed into American law by President George Bush, but the Indian parliament must still agree to it before it enters force. The US/India deal has essentially required India to clearly separate its civil nuclear sector from the military and place it under IAEA safeguards in return for the opening of nuclear trade between the countries.

These agreements mean that nuclear trade with India is close to being an established fact, despite what NSG guidelines currently say. How new guidelines will be negotiated at the group's next meeting remains to be seen.

Further information

The Nuclear Suppliers Group

WNA's Nuclear Power in India information paper

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