India to provide new nuclear reactor site for Russia

  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times, Moscow
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  • Updated: Dec 16, 2011 01:36 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur are greeted by Russian deputy foreign minister AM Vadakin at Moscow international airport. PTI/Atul Yadav


India is "committed" to providing Russia an alternative site for the next generation of nuclear power reactors after the local resistance at Kudankulam.

But the exact location of this new site has not been decided yet, according to sources in the Indian establishment.

Russia expressed frustration at how the Manmohan Singh government's nuclear power policy had become tied in political knots. Although New Delhi said Russia "must go through its own planning process", there is no clear roadmap for nuclear power in the country.

Another sore point is India's nuclear liability law. Russia is insisting that these reactors are governed by a bilateral 1980s understanding that exempts Russia from reparations in case of an accident.

New Delhi insisted that this understanding cannot take precedent over an act of Parliament. A former Indian envoy to Moscow pointed out that limiting nuclear liability for reactors sold to India - far from being a Western request - was first demanded by Russia in the 1980s after the Chernobyl meltdown.

Russia also clarified that any joint reprocessing plant would have to be situated in Russia. India said the two sides were "still talking to each other" on the issue.

Experts note that localised resistance is pointless.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's opposition to a nuclear reactor complex at Haripur is a case in point: Bangladesh has begun negotiating with Russia for building a reactor in Pabna district - across the West Bengal border.

 

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