India, Russia sign nuclear deal

India, Russia sign nuclear deal


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday. AFP

The agreements were signed after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin here, during which the two leaders spoke of the need for "pinpointed" strategies to deal with terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The defence agreements aimed at moving away from buyer-seller relationship provides for joint development of weapons systems and platforms over a 10-year period up to 2020 and vital after sales support for Russian equipment supplied to India to end ad hocism in this critical area.

ITAR-TASS news agency reported that the two countries have finalised the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal, an irritant in the bilateral relations.

Singh described the Inter-Governmental framework agreement for civil nuclear cooperation as a "major step" forward and said India was "very satisfied" at the development of bilateral atomic cooperation.

The deal is seen as going much forward for the benefit of India than the historic 123 atomic agreement with the US which does not guarantee fuel supplies without any break.

This pact will significantly widen atomic fuel imports from Russia with that country seeking to strengthen its foothold on the USD 100 billion Indian nuclear market in the backdrop of several issues needing to be cleared up before US businesses can compete for setting up new atomic reactors.

A joint declaration setting out the priorities for bilateral cooperation in diverse fields was also issued at the end of the annual Indo-Rusian summit talks.

In sharp contrast to the frigid and cold weather in Moscow which was blanketed by snow, it was all warmth in the gilded and ornate hall inside the Kremlin where Singh and Medvedev spoke warmly of Indo-Russian cooperation with the prime minister saying, "Our relationship stands on its own footing and is not influenced by our relations with any other country."

"Today we have signed an agreement that broadens the reach of our cooperation beyond supplies of nuclear reactors to areas of research and development and a whole range of areas in nuclear energy," Singh told a joint press conference with Medvedev.

The Prime Minister said the agreement will deepen and strengthen the already existing nuclear cooperation between the two countries under which four additional nuclear reactors would be set up by Russia in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

A site for four more reactors at Haripur has been identified in West Bengal as part of what Atomic Energy Commission chief Srikumar Banerjee said will be part of a chain of nuclear parks in the country.

A third site -- probably in Maharashtra -- has been identified for Russia to set up some more reactors.

Singh said the two countries also decided to set a trade target of USD 20 billion by 2015 from the existing level of around USD seven billion.

Medvedev made it clear that nothing can stop his country from pursuing a vigorous atomic cooperation with India.

Asked about provision of Enrichment and Reprocessing Right (ENR) to India against the backdrop of a G-8 resolution in July this year under which Russia and seven other countries committed that they will refrain from transferring such technology, he said: "Nothing changes for us."

The new civil nuclear pact provides for uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies from Russia even in the event of termination of bilateral ties in this field for any reason.

The Indo-Russian pact on atomic cooperation is a significant document and goes much further than the 123 agreement between India and the US, officials said.

The pact also has provisions for transfer of enrichment and nuclear technology, which is denied in the 123 agreement with the US.

Medvedev said the nuclear agreement opens the way for greater cooperation beyond Kudankulam.

"The nuclear cooperation between the two countries have a very good future. We are satisfied with the cooperation and I hope today's agreement will pave the way for greater cooperation in this field in the years to come," Singh said.

Singh and Medvedev also spoke of the excellent potential for supply of affordable Indian pharmaceutical products in Russia.

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