Naval chief rules out price renegotiation of Admiral Gorshkov

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New Delhi, Dec 3 (UNI) Ahead of a high-level Russian team's arrival here this week for renegotiating the price of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, India had contracted to buy for 1.5 billion dollar in 2004 from Russia, Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today ruled it out, saying delay in delivery of the retro-fitted vessel would make India ponder over her defence relations with Moscow.

''We have paid more than 400 million dollar for the carrier and we own it now,'' Admiral Mehta told a press conference here on the eve of Navy Day.

He ruled out renegotiation of the price for the carrier as well as India opting out of the 1.5 billion dollar deal signed in 2004.

As per the contract, Russia was to deliver the carrier by August 2008 but now Moscow wants revision of the price to 2.7 billion dollar, citing re-cabling work of 2,400 kms to be done on the carrier.

''When we signed the deal, it was a fixed-price contract, taking into account all eventualities of retrofitting. The (retrofitting) process will take at least two years. We have to see where our relations are going to with Moscow,'' said Admiral Mehta, who is also Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee.''We should not pay anything more than what we have committed in the original contract,'' he added.

The Naval Chief blamed the delay in delivery of Gorshkov on Russian decision to divert a large number of qualified people to building its own new generation nuclear submarines.

''It was Gorshkov project which helped Russian shipyards provide jobs when their economy was down. With our money, there has been a lot of prosperity in the (Russian) region,'' he said.

''But now, sudden oil boom has brought about a lot of prosperity, enabling the Russians to launch new warships and submarines, diverting the workforce,'' he added.

He said Indian Navy would have two carrier-borne groups operational in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea by 2015 notwithstanding the delay.

UNI

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