South Korea to push for nuke deal with India

President Lee will be R-Day chief guest

Seoul and New Delhi are discussing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which is likely to be high on the agenda during Lee’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Diplomatic sources said on Saturday that South Korea’s state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is keen to export its APR-1400 reactors to India. The KEPCO and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) have been engaged in a joint study of ‘licensibility and constructability’ of APR-1400s in India over the past few months.

A KEPCO delegation last month visited Mumbai and had discussions with the NPCIL top brass. But commercial negotiations between KEPCO and NPCIL can start only after New Delhi and Seoul enter into an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

A KEPCO-led consortium on December 27 last won a US $ 40 billion contract to build four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates by 2020.

The KEPCO, with its installed capacity of 17716 MWe as of the end of 2008, also ranks sixth among world’s nuke powerhouses.

It operates 20 units, with eight more units currently under construction and additional 10 units planned to be built by 2030. Nuclear power accounts for 39 per cent of total electricity generation in South Korea. If Seoul and New Delhi strike a nuke deal, South Korea will be the fifth country – after US, France, Russia and Canada – to enter into a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India after the September 2008 waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) ended the country’s more-than three-decade-long isolation from the nuclear world since the 1974 tests in Pokhran.

Sources said that the South Korean company was keen to offer India its Advanced Power Reactors at very competitive prices. The KEPCO and NPCIL on August 27 last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear power through technical exchange of data, experience, visits and joint work.

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