India has finalised a civil nuclear agreement with South Korea, though the two governments are yet to sign the agreement. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon announced this following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South Korean President Lee Hyung-bak on Friday in Hanoi.
The two governments, said Menon, "have finalised an agreement on cooperation in civil uses of nuclear energy which now awaits signature."
Korean officials in New Delhi said the text had been frozen but they were "still awaiting final confirmation from the Indian side."
The agreement will add a further civil nuclear option for India's energy needs.
Korea is a recent entry in the international nuclear power market. It recently won a large $ 20 billion contract to build a set of four reactors for the United Arab Emirates. Seoul has set a target of exporting 80 nuclear reactors by 2030.
The standard Korean reactor, the APR-1000, is an improved version of the US-Japanese Westinghouse AP-1000. Because the latter still holds the license for the design, Korean cannot sell these reactors without US permission. The UAE, for example, had to agree to not develop fuel cycle capabilities when it signed the deal with Korea.
But Korea has a number of indigenous nuclear technologies in areas like fuel production and waste-handling that would interest India. Korean officials say the text of the agreement is confidential until the agreement is signed.
Korea's real advantage may lie in the area of cost. The APR-1400 is said to be as much as a fifth cheaper to build and a fifth cheaper to fuel than the French equivalent, the Areva EPR-1600 reactor.