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India, Russia take civil nuclear ties to next level

Taking their civil nuclear cooperation agreement to the next level, the Indian and Russian governments announced on Thursday a decision to construct another 12 units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant site in southern Tamil Nadu. They also agreed to set up more Russian-designed nuclear power plants elsewhere.

During the first bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was decided India would “expeditiously identify a second site”, other than Kudankulam.

Construction of more Russian-made nuclear power plants is to take into account “India’s demand for power, the then available nuclear technologies, including those that may be developed jointly, mutually acceptable technical and commercial terms, and the prevalent electricity tariffs (rates),” according to a ministry of external affairs statement.

It appears that potential sites have been offered Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is learnt that President Putin has plans to sell as many as 25 nuclear reactors to India through Russia’s state-owned energy giant, Rosatom.

“The sides (India and Russia) recognise that the agenda for their bilateral cooperation in the nuclear power sector is globally one of the largest between any two countries. They look forward to the construction of additional Russian-designed nuclear power units in India, cooperation in research and development of innovative nuclear power plants, and localisation of manufacturing of equipment and fuel assemblies in India as the goal of their future collaboration,” went the statement.

A 1,000-Mw reactor is operating at full capacity at Kudankulam, with a second one due by 2015. The second unit has been constructed but has to be connected with the power grids, which might happen early next year. A general framework agreement to start the construction of two more units was signed in April this year.

The agreement to construct additional nuclear reactors at Kudankulam was signed in 2008 under the previous government.

It was decided to set up a joint working group, to seek exploration and mining opportunities in other countries and develop a framework for collaboration in radioactive waste management.


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