Now for a deal with Moscow
India will still have to read the fine print of the latest Russian proposal since the NSG has to endorse any bilateral nuclear cooperation between States.india Updated: Dec 23, 2007 20:33 IST
Russia’s willingness to sign a nuclear agreement with India, without waiting for international restrictions on technology transfer to New Delhi to be lifted, is welcome. When President Vladimir Putin visited India in January 2007, the two countries had signed a Memorandum of Intent for the construction of four nuclear power reactors in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. Now Moscow seems keen to formalise that agreement and also build half a dozen more reactors elsewhere in India. The offer includes the supply of offshore nuclear plants to India without restrictions, as well. Since the proposal doesn’t seem to carry any riders like the Hyde Act clause that hamstrings the Indo-US deal, New Delhi shouldn’t find it too difficult to decide on it soon.
That Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit to Moscow last month was called off at the last minute had to do with the requirement for a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). India was also required to sign an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency before the deal could come through. Having said that, however, India will still have to read the fine print of the latest Russian proposal since the NSG has to endorse any bilateral nuclear cooperation between States.
An important NSG condition for selling enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to a State is that it must already possess full-scale enrichment and reprocessing plants. While it’s true that India has these capabilities, with the Indo-US deal hanging in the balance, the US is unlikely to cheerlead Indo-Russian nuclear cooperation. Washington could even use its clout in the NSG to stall it.