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Russia to be first to benefit from Indo-US nuke deal: Sibal

Written by: Staff

Moscow, Sep 17 (UNI) Russia would be the first to benefit from civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the United States, said Indian ambassador to Moscow, Kanwal Sibal who left for India today, after completing his three-year term here.

Russia was already building two nuclear power plants in Kudankulam and a Memorandum of Intent to build four more reactors with Russian assistance was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India in January, Mr Sibal said in an interview to the leading business daily 'Kommersant'.

''Our negotiations with any other partners including the United States have not reached this level,'' the ambassador said, adding there would be plenty of opportunities for those interested as India planned to add 20,000 MW of nuclear energy to national electric power grid by 2020.

''Russia will surely have its share, and a significant part of it, as Russia is internationally competitive in this area,'' he noted.

On political storm over nuclear deal in India, Mr Sibal said the India-US nuclear deal was intended to open doors for international civilian nuclear cooperation, especially in the context of ''our mounting energy requirements and the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.'' But, the deal signified more than that, he said, pointing out that it was also ''a way to remove from the agenda a very difficult non-proliferation issue that had dogged India and the international community for decades.'' ''Led by the US, India has been deprived of external support for its civilian nuclear sector,'' he said emphasising that the US had taken the lead to the opposite and helped India to raise the level of nuclear power in its energy mix with simultaneous acceptance by India of certain 'non-proliferation' commitments.

''In any case, what you see in India is the demonstration of real democracy at work,'' Mr Sibal said, noting that the political class in India would find a way out which would be in the overall national interest.

The new ambassador to Russia, Prabhat Shukla, is expected to join the embassy on September 27, ahead of a series of key visits by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony in October.


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