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Russia to sell nuclear fuel to India

Opponents say Russia's decision was spurred by a US determination last year to share civilian N-tech with India.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 16:01 IST

Russia has informed the United States that Moscow intends to supply nuclear fuel for India's Tarapur reactor, a State Department official said.

Critics worry the action will erode further international rules governing nuclear proliferation.

Opponents say Russia's decision was spurred by a US determination last year to share civilian nuclear technology with India and signals a coming flood of countries looking to trade nuclear goods outside international treaties.

"This is the first salvo," Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said on Monday. "China could be next in trying to propose a similar loophole for Pakistan."

US President George W Bush decided last year to change decades of anti-proliferation policy and negotiate a deal to supply nuclear technology and fuel to India. The deal was completed just this month during a visit to India by Bush.

The State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment publicly, disagreed that Russia's decision could be linked with the US-India agreement.

India, the official said, is short of fuel needed to power a civilian reactor that provides crucial energy. "A serious need exists independent of the US-India arrangement," said the official, who has direct knowledge of Russia's dealings with the State Department.

Analysts say that India would be forced to shut down operations at the Tarapur plant by June or July if it does not get supplies from Russia.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 15:29 IST