Nuke project: India, Russia yet to sort out differences

Moscow wants its reactors exempt from Indian law

Moscow and New Delhi are yet to iron out differences over the applicability of India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act on the Russian reactors to be built at the atomic power plant in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

Russia’s JSC Atomstroyexport and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited have almost finalised the deal for the third and fourth reactors for the power-plant at Kudankulam. But it will not be signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to New Delhi this week.

“The agreements are almost initialed....just some minor issues needed to be worked out,” said Russian Ambassador to India, Alexander M Kadakin.

Medvedev is reaching New Delhi early on Wednesday to attend the fourth BRICS summit. He will also hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the summit.

Kadakin on Monday told journalists that Medvedev would stress on enhancing India-Russia bilateral civil nuclear cooperation during his meeting with Singh.

However, the techno-commercial agreements between Atomstroyexport and NPCIL could be signed only when Vladimir Putin, who is set to take over as President of Russia, would come to New Delhi for the annual bilateral summit in November or December this year.

Though the Tamil Nadu government recently gave a go-ahead to start operations of the KNPP despite protests by locals and anti-nuclear activists, the deals on the two more reactors has not yet been finalised as New Delhi is not ready to concede to Moscow’s demand for keeping them out of the ambit of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act.

Legal regime

Moscow pointed it out to New Delhi that India had no legal regime for nuclear liability, when the inter-governmental agreement was signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 or when the JSC Atomstroyexport and NPCIL inked the deal for the first two reactors in 2002.

Kadakin on Monday told journalists that Moscow would expect NPCIL and JSC Atomstroyexport to strike the deal for the third and fourth reactors at Kudankulum under same terms and conditions as the ones applicable to the first and second, because the cooperation between the two countries for peaceful use of nuclear energy is covered by an intergovernmental agreement inked 23 years ago.

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