India, Russia likely to sign 123 type atomic energy pact during PM's visit

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New Delhi, Dec. 3 (ANI): India and Russia are likely to sign an atomic energy agreement along the lines of the 123 agreement that has been inked by India and the United States during the three-day visit of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Moscow from December 6.

According to sources, this atomic energy agreement will cover a broad spectrum of bilateral nuclear trade. Although, India has a nuclear pact with Russia, it is confined to the construction of nuclear sites.

Russia is already building four nuclear energy reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and two additional sites have been allocated for new reactors in Haripur, West Bengal.

In 2008, Russia was the third country to sign a nuclear deal with India after the signing of the India-US agreement which allows India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel. France has also signed a co-operation pact with Delhi.

Moscow and Delhi also signed a deal under which Russia will assist India in its space programme, including sending Indian astronauts into space.

During the visit of the Prime Minister from December 6 to 8, the two sides are also expected to sign agreements for enhancing cooperation in the health and culture sectors.

Sources have told ANI that the Russian-manufactured aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov deal is unlikely to be sealed during the visit. New Delhi sees it as an ongoing technical issue, which will take some time to be finalised.

Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma, on Wednesday said that negotiations on the price of the aircraft carrier is in the "final stages". He refused to fix a deadline for the deal.

"We are on the final stages of negotiations. Fourth round of negotiations have completed," Verma told reporters ahead of the Navy Week celebrations.

"It is true that the project is behind schedule. But we are working on our programme to seize the delivery of the platform by 2012. It continues to be addressed at every bilateral level," Admiral Verma said yesterday.

According to the initial agreement, the the aircraft carrier was a gift from Russia, but India was to spend 974 million dollars to upgrade it to the Indian Navy's specifications.

The balance of the 1.5 billion dollar deal was for the 16 MiG-29 jets and Kamov anti-submarine warfare helicopters that will be deployed on the ship.

While in Moscow, the Prime Minister will also be attending the concluding ceremony of the Year of India where the top leadership of Russia will also be present.

The issue of terrorism will also be taken up during the visit.

According to sources, three agreements on defence cooperation will be signed during the visit. Sources said that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has given its approval to the same. y Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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