Russia to help India build fast neutron reactors, sans sanctions

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Moscow, Oct 25 (UNI) Russia could launch cooperation with India in building fast neutron nuclear reactors, if sanctions against New Delhi were lifted, the top Russian nuclear agency said.

India is a non-signatory to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

''Joint work to build nuclear power plants equipped with fast neutron reactors is one of our prospective projects. India is taking its first steps in this work, and Russia is the world leader in this field,'' a spokesperson for the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying.

The Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Russia's Urals has operated with a fast neutron reactor for more than 20 years.

''Russia and India have wide prospects for atomic cooperation.

India has long since started producing heavy-water reactors for nuclear power plants, and can build 600-MW power units of this kind. But the country is not yet building PWRs (pressurized water reactors), which are similar to Russian VVER reactors, so we have good opportunities for cooperation in this field,'' the spokesperson said.

He said uranium enrichment is underdeveloped in India and Russia could offer such services for the Indian nuclear power sector.

However, the official said cooperation is currently possible only on the Kudankulam NPP Russia is helping to build in India, as restrictions on nuclear supplies remain in place.

Atomstroyexport, Russia's nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly, has been building the Kudankulam plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu since 2002 in line with a 1988 agreement between India and the Soviet Union and an addendum signed ten years later. The plant is designed to have capacity of 2,000 MW.

In January, Russian Nuclear Power Agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko called for lifting the restrictions. ''Russia believes that India has an unimpeachable reputation in the nuclear non-proliferation sphere, and therefore we are going to push for an end to corresponding sanctions against India,'' he had said.

A draft Indo-US agreement on nuclear cooperation, which would allow India to buy nuclear reactors and uranium abroad, was coordinated in July after two years of negotiations. For the deal to be implemented India needs to reach an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, on fuel safety guarantees.

The nuclear Suppliers Group then must agree to make an exception for India as under the rules of the organisation, an NPT non-signatory country cannot buy uranium abroad. The deal then must be approved by US Congress.


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