Russia to build more reactors, sign 5th generation jet deal (Roundup)

Friday, December 17, 2010

NEW DELHI - India and Russia are set to sign over a dozen agreements, including a key pact on a fifth generation fighter aircraft and another one on expanding civil nuclear cooperation, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s two-day visit here next week.

Medvedev touches down here with a large business delegation and senior ministers Tuesday morning for an annual summit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Manmohan Singh and Medvedev Tuesday will discuss a range of bilateral and international issues including the expansion of civil nuclear cooperation, economic ties and terrorism. He will go to Agra and Mumbai Wednesday.

In Mumbai, Medvedev will stay at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, one of the targets of attack by Pakistani terrorists in 2008, and pay homage to victims of the savagery.

More than 15 agreements will be signed during the visit.

Russian ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin Friday said the much-awaited deal on the joint production of the cutting edge jet fighter and an agreement on Russia building more nuclear reactors in India will be signed Tuesday after talks between Manmohan Singh and Medvedev.

According to a draft of the pact, Russia will share its technology with India for the fighter and both countries will design the aircraft jointly.

India and Russia are expected to ink an agreement on scientific cooperation to extend the existing framework by another decade. A bilateral pact to offer signals from the Glanost Satellite is under negotiation.

Kadakin said Russia was upbeat about building 14-16 nuclear reactors in India over the next few years, but asked New Delhi to bring its civilian nuclear liability legislation in line with global norms.

The two countries would ink an accord under which Russia would set up two more 1,000 MW units at Kudankulam.

“We are prepared for serial construction of nuclear units, at least 4-6 more units, at Kudankulam to meet India’s growing energy needs.”

He indicated that Russia might be allotted an alternate site in Orissa for setting up nuclear reactor.

“We have not received yet an explanation from the Indian side as to how it will work. So far we are working on the basis of agreements that we had signed before this bill was passed,” Kadakin told reporters here.

“So far we do not think it will be an impediment. But we do think India will adhere to the international agreements it has signed. International agreements take supremacy over domestic laws,” he said.

The envoy, however, underlined that the civil nuclear liability legislation will not be “a hurdle to expanding civil nuclear cooperation” and added that Russia was looking to build 14-16 nuclear reactors in India in the long term.

In October, India signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) to allay concerns of foreign suppliers, including the US.

India’s nuclear liability legislation caps the operator’s liability at Rs.1,500 crore ($331 million) and gives the operator the right to seek damages from suppliers if there is an accident.

Medvedev is expected to forcefully underline Moscow commitment to supporting New Delhi’s bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

“Our position is all along clear. As Foreign Minister (Sergei Lavrov) said, the whole world will benefit if India becomes the permanent member of the UN Security Council. I am surprised why the world is taking so long to realise it,” said Kadakin. “We have been saying this for the last two decades.”

Kadakin said officials from both sides were working on a serious and concentrated document that could map out the next steps in the Indo-Russian strategic partnership.

Representatives of the India and Russian business councils and the Indo-Russian CEOs Forum are scheduled to have meetings on the sidelines of the summit Monday and Tuesday.

Voicing concern over terrorism emanating from Pakistan as “cancer,” the Russian envoy urged Islamabad to do away with 43 terrorist training camps and said cooperation in combating terrorism will figure in the talks.

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