'Nerpa' nuke sub not to be leased to India : Chief of Gen Staff

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Moscow, Nov 18 (UNI) The Akula II class 'Nerpa' nuclear submarine, which was recently involved in a tragic accident during sea trials, will be commissioned in the Russian Navy rather than be sold or leased to India, a top Russian military official has said.

''The sum of 650-780 million dollars, which Rosoboronexport and the Amur Shipbuilding Plant had negotiated over a long period of time with the Indian Ministry of Defence, will now be found in Russia, either within the state weapons procurement programme or somewhere else,'' the government-controlled Russian daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported today, quoting the chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen Nikolai Makarov as saying.

On November 8, while the submarine was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan, a crewmember is believed to have entered the wrong data into the temperature sensor, which caused the fire safety system to release Freon gas into the living quarters.

Twenty people died in the accident and 21 others were injured.

The construction of nuclear attack submarine started in 1991, but was suspended for over a decade due to a lack of funding.

Media reports have said the construction of the submarine was partially financed by India for a 10-year lease of the 12,000-tonne submarine, for the Indian Navy.

The submarine's reactor was not affected by the accident, which took place in the nose of the submarine, and radiation levels on board remained normal.

The Russian Navy earlier said the sea trials of the submarine would continue after the investigation into the recent tragedy and certain technical adjustments in the fire safety system.

UNI XC SKB AS1612

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