Russia, an influential member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), has said it is keen to expand civilian nuclear cooperation with India, but underlined that issues regarding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the NSG regime needed to be resolved to accelerate the process.
"We are keen to expand our activity in the nuclear sector with India. The enhancement of bilateral peaceful nuclear cooperation is also in the interest of our countries," Russian ambassador to India Vyacheslav I Trubnikov said at a seminar in Chandigarh.
"Russia is ready to interact in this sphere provided it will not violate Russia's existing international obligations," he said as he alluded to the Kudankulam nuclear power project being built in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu with Russian help.
"However, the concrete prospects and possibilities of such cooperation are closely geared to resolving the issues related to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the NSG regime," he said.
Nearly seven months ago, Moscow agreed to supply 60 tonnes of uranium to bail out fuel-starved Tarapur reactors in the teeth of the American objections. The decision was announced during the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to India in March.
India and Russia also decided to expand civil nuclear energy and space cooperation between them during Fradkov's visit that came close on the heels of India and the US sealing a landmark civilian nuclear accord based on New Delhi's plan of the separation of its civilian and military nuclear facilities.
Moscow's decision to supply fuel for the Tarapur plant had upset Washington, which opposed the fuel supply on the grounds that it violated the NSG guidelines.
New Delhi had defended the move saying that the fuel was being sought under safety exception clause of the NSG guidelines, and, therefore, did not constitute a violation of the NSG guidelines.
The NSG is expected to take a final call on adjusting its guidelines on permitting global nuclear commerce with New Delhi after the India-US civil nuclear deal clears the US Congressional process.