M A I N   N E W S

60 tonnes of uranium fuel for Tarapur
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
In a development of significant import, Russia agreed to supply 60 metric tonnes of uranium fuel for the Tarapur atomic power plant in Maharashtra and get the Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu operational by 2007-08, coupled with strengthening cooperation in space technology.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov, who held discussions here today, decided to conclude an agreement, allowing investment of funds from the rupee debt account in the country.

At the press conference after the talks, Dr Manmohan Singh said both countries would utilise opportunities to expand partnership in civil nuclear energy cooperation. He described the Kudankulam atomic power project as the flagship of bilateral cooperation in the energy sector.

Both sides agreed to step up bilateral trade to $ 10 billion in the next five years.

An agreement was also reached on cooperation in global satellite navigation system, banking, IT, biotechnology and hi-tech commerce. On his part, Mr Fradkov observed that his visit was a successful one.

He evinced keen interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project and pointed out that Russia had a great deal of experience in pipeline projects.

If Moscow’s involvement was sought in the pipeline project, it would consider it positively.

The supply of nuclear fuel was achieved despite some reservations from the US.

Russia had struck the deal without any doubts about India’s track record as New Delhi had never violated any international law on the proliferation issue.

It was for this very reason that the George W. Bush administration had introduced a bill in the US Congress for amending the law, allowing India to have access to nuclear technology for its burgeoning energy needs.

In his bid to woo the Congress, Mr Bush had asserted that India had been a non-proliferator. On its part, Russia committed to supply 60 tonnes of uranium for the Tarapur reactor.

Sources said the Indo-Russian nuclear deal was sealed not at the cost of the guidelines of the nuclear suppliers group. The Russian Prime Minister reiterated it was clinched within the international framework and commitments.

Impartial observers believed more than Russia’s commitment to supply nuclear fuel to India, Moscow had evinced keen interest in providing nuclear technology and equipment to the country.

An agreement between India and Russia for the supply of equipment and technology for the Kudankulam atomic power plant had taken place in 2001.

Under this agreement, Moscow, besides designing the plant, had also committed to supply 90 per cent of the equipment and materials.

Mr Fradkov assured to expedite the construction of the nuclear plant, which was expected to become operational by 2007-08.

On being operational, the nuclear plant would generate 2000 MW of power.

Dr Manmohan Singh said India envisioned a substantial increase in the share of nuclear technology in India’s overall energy mix.

Observing that energy security was one of the principal themes of the G-8 Summit in St Petersburg in July, he disclosed that he had accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend the summit.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam conveyed to Mr Fradkov when the latter called on him that that the time had come for joint marketing of the Brahmos cruise missile. The missile’s successful trials had been completed and its serial production had begun.

Mr Kalam also underlined the need for laboratory-to-laboratory contact of scientists of the two countries and suggested that 20 laboratories in each country be selected for the purpose.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited said the recently renovated and modernised Tarapur atomic power stations could run smoothly for the next five years with the 60 tonnes of uranium fuel.


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