M A I N   N E W S

From Moscow to Delhi: 16 N-reactors
Gorshkov delivery by 2012 end; key defence, aviation deals sealed
Ashok Tuteja & Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News service

New Delhi, March 12
Demonstrating the solidity of their strategic relationship to the world, India and Russia today sealed multi-billion dollars deals in key areas like defence, nuclear energy, diamond, petroleum and aviation as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Moscow’s support to Delhi in its fight against terrorism.

Russia also announced its readiness to build 16 nuclear reactors for power stations in India. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who was part of Putin’s delegation, told the media that Moscow was prepared to assist India fully in the civil-nuclear energy field.

The two countries signed five accords at the government level in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Russian leader after wide-ranging talks between them. Around 15 supplementary agreements were inked between the two countries at various other levels on the margins of the official-level talks.

The most significant accords between the two sides were on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that was approved by the Union Cabinet for the purchase of the vessel at $ 2.33 billion and the supply of 29 MIG 29K — the sea variant of the fighter used by the IAF — valued at $ 1.5 billion. Earlier, 16 such fighters had been ordered by India and the first lot of four — twin-seated trainer version — were inducted into the IAF at Goa last month. The IAF variant has been in service since the cold war era of the 1980’s. These can fly off the deck of the Gorshkov. The purchase of Admiral Gorshkov, the 45,000 tonne sea-borne aircraft carrier, was first inked at $ 974 million.

The Russian side demanded more money and wanted $ 2.9 billion which was brought down to $ 2.33 billion following a three- year hectic re-negotiation process. Moscow said it would deliver the aircraft carrier to India by the end of 2012.

The two sides are also understood to have discussed cooperation in other key areas of defence. The role of India in co-developing the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the multi role transport aircraft were discussed. India wants an embargo on selling the upcoming fighter to other countries, especially China. Another important agreement was the umbrella pact between the National Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Atom Stroy for Kudankulam III and Kudankulam IV nuclear reactors as part of the nuclear cooperation accord between the two sides. The agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy is expected to open more avenues of nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides also signed another pact on serial construction of Russian designed nuclear reactors. “This is one of our major, far-reaching, promising areas of interaction,” Putin said, while video-conferencing with Indian businessman earlier today. Cooperation with India in nuclear energy will include not only building reactors and supply of the fuel, but also waste disposal, he said.



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