With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit just about a week away, Moscow has taken a tough stand on the liability law India is insisting on in all nuclear power equipment purchases.
The Russian position can threaten the signing of the commercial pact for building two more reactors — Kudankulam 3 and 4 in Tamil Nadu —expected during Singh’s visit.
The Russians said that if all terms of the deal for Kudankulam reactors 1 and 2 are to remain, then the liability clause can’t be added. India, though, wants the liability clause to be tacked on.
The agreement on reactors 1 and 2, with a capacity of 1,000-MW each, were signed by former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev. The construction of the reactors began in 2001 — much before the nuclear liability law came into effect in India.
Russian envoy to India Alexander Kadakin said, “Since Russia is offering the same terms of credit (as in the first deal), it would be naive (on Russia’s part) to expect some new terms or limitation.”
But Indian officials differed. “That’s an old position. The Indian position is that since the commercial pact for 3 and 4 is being signed after the passing of the liability law, the law will be applicable.”
When asked whether this would derail the signing of the pacts, Indian officials said that Delhi is at an advanced stage of negotiation. The Russian envoy also said the protest against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was “inspired”.