Under the recent Indo-Russian agreement, India will not have any constraint to proceed with the "closed fuel cycle" as Russia has recognised India as its equal partner as well as a responsible nuclear country, top officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited have said.
Just as in the earlier agreement on the two units of 1000 MW each Kudankulam atomic power plants in Tamil Nadu which are under construction, the current 'intent' signed between Russia and India on January 25 during President Vladimir Putin's recent visit, also has the provision for closed fuel cycle, the NPCIL officials said in Mumbai.
"This is in sharp contrast to Indo-US nuclear deliberations in which the whole agenda apart from providing economic benefit to US business, further restricts 'even' India's indigenously created technologies, under the guise of non-proliferation," they said.
In the closed nuclear fuel cycle, the nuclear fuel goes through different stages including mining, preparation of the fuel for use in reactor operation to reprocessing of spent fuel of the reactor for energy and safety management of radioactive waste. If the spent fuel is not reprocessed, then it is called "open fuel cycle".
"Issues on spent fuel was never a problem with Russians and they have clearly said about the use of closed fuel cycle with the Russian reactors which are already under construction and those reactors (atleast four more) which will be coming up in the next decade," the officials said.
The joint statement said both the countries together would expand civil nuclear energy cooperation, with emphasis on nuclear power generation aimed at enabling India realise its "goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security in a self sustaining manner."
"The self sustained manner", indicates the closed fuel cycle, officials said.
"Of course, the entire fuel cycle will be under International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards," they said.
Meanhwile, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar said "the signing of the 'intent' on January 25 with Russian government was a way forward in the whole process of getting energy security for India."
"We have right to enter into bilateral agreement with any country and we hope that more countries will come forward, to mutual benefit," he said.
NPCIL officials also said that they were confident that Russia would play a major role in getting the NSG guideline clauses changed with the member countries in the forthcoming meeting in a couple of months in favour of India.
Russia being one of the five nuclear power countries, "we will be happy to work with it as equal partner," they said.
A top DAE official, who will be one of the persons taking part in the negotiation on 123 agreement with US, told on condition of anonymity, "in stark contrast to long-debates and wrangling on Indo-US nuclear deal, the Russians have not curtailed India by hiding behind the fig leaves of non-proliferation or making it contingent on India to align with the Russian foreign policy as it should."
Meanwhile, NPCIL officials said that once the NSG gives green signal, four Russian reactors of 1000 MW each will be constructed at Kudankulum in two stages — two reactors (Units 3 and 4) will be constructed after a gap of two to three years after the second unit is completed in 2008 and the next two will come up after another a gap of two years of completion of unit four.