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India, Russia sign uranium deals

india Updated: Feb 11, 2009 20:32 IST

Taking their nuclear cooperation to another level, Russia's leading nuclear company TVEL and India's Department of Atomic Energy on Wednesday signed two contracts for supplying uranium for Indian nuclear reactors.

The Department of Atomic Energy and TVEL, a joint stock company of the Russian Federation, have signed a contract for the long-term supply of 2,000 tonnes of natural uranium pellets for India's pressurised heavy water reactors, the DAE said in a statement here.

The two sides signed another contract for about 60 tonne low enriched uranium (LEU) pellets for boiling water reactor units at Tarapur, Maharashtra, being operated by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

"Imported natural uranium from Russia will be used in the domestic pressurized heavy water reactors under IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards," the DAE said.

Russia had earlier supplied fuel pellets for the two reactors at Tarapur.

This is a second agreement India has signed for the supply of fuel since the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) lifted curbs on selling some nuclear fuel and equipment to New Delhi in September last year. Last month, an agreement was signed with French nuclear giant Areva for the supply of 300 tonnes of uranium.

"All the technical details of cooperation with our Indian partners were worked out very quickly and approval took no more than three months," TVEL vice president Vasily Konstantinov said.

TVEL is one of the world's leading producers of nuclear fuel. It supplies atomic fuel to 73 commercial and 30 research reactors in 13 countries.

TVEL is also the supplier for nuclear fuel assemblies for Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (2X1,000 MWe) that is being set up in collaboration with Russian Federation at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. In May last year, TVEL had supplied the fuel required for initial years of operation for these reactors.

The fuel supply will help Indian reactors to operate more efficiently as most of them are running below their capacity due to severe crunch.

India and Russia signed a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact during the visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to New Delhi Dec 5. The bilateral pact envisages Moscow building additional four nuclear reactors in Kudankulam and to help in constructing other nuclear deals.

India has signed bilateral civil nuclear pacts with the US, France, Russia and Kazakhstan.