hi INDiA Copyright 2022
Moscow : On an official visit to Russia, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday made it clear that his government will go ahead with the Russian-aided Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, opening the 1,000-MW unit-I for commercial operation in “a couple of weeks”.
“I am confident that in a couple of weeks we should be able to go ahead in operationalising Kudankulam-I and, thereafter, in a period of six months, the Kudankulam-II,” he said at a joint press conference with President Medvedev after their three-hour-long meeting — a two-hour one-on-one and then the hour-long delegation-level talks.
“Kudankulam I and II are at an advanced stage and they are very close to being operationalised,” the prime minister added. Protests by locals at the site have halted all operations of the plant.
However, the two sides failed to clinch the much-awaited deal on units III and IV of the plant as they have a difference of opinion on the recently-notified Indian nuclear liability rules and laws.
Moscow has expressed its dismay over New Delhi’s insistence on making them applicable to the additional Kudankulam units, while they are not applicable to units I and II as the agreements signed in late 1980s and mid-1990s, much before India enacted laws to fix responsibility on nuclear technology firms and supplies for accidents.
India also promised to adhere by the nuclear energy road map, under which it has promised an alternative site to the Russians for a nuclear plant instead of West Bengal’s Haripur that has witnessed local protests. Russia is awaiting a response on this for nearly a year now.
“The alternative site (to Haripur) will be considered. PM emphasised on adhering to the nuclear power road map with Russia,” India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said here, following completion of all bilateral meets during the whirlwind 36-hour visit to the Russian capital.
The two sides also signed five key agreements, including one on India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited producing an additional 42 Su-30KMI air superiority combat plane for the Indian Air Force (IAF) that will take the Sukhoi fleet strength to 272 planes by 2018.
This is in addition to the 230 such planes for which contracts have been signed earlier, and of which 120 have already been inducted into the IAF.
Medvedev said that Russia was looking forward to a future agreement on civilian aircraft co-production too.
There were also agreements in the field of anti-monopolies, fly ash management by Russia with Indian help, medicinal drug quality control and educational exchanges.
The Russian side indicated that India will take control of a Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine on a 10-year lease beginning this month-end.
On key joint defence projects such as Admiral Gorshkov (delivery to Indian Navy slated for December 2012), fifth generation fighter aircraft and the multirole transport aircraft, “schedules are being adhered to,” Mathai said.
Medvedev also reiterated Russia’s strong support for India’s candidature for a permanent membership of the reformed United Nations Security Council, apart from calling for the council’s other members to wholeheartedly push for India joining them up there.
The two countries also affirmed their commitment to work together in the UN, along with other BRICS nations, as they had done so during the recent debates and resolution on the West Asia and North Africa situation.
They also agreed that the fundamental transformation taking place in the states in this region “should not be used” as a pretext to delay resolution of lasting conflicts, but rather as an incentive to settle them.
On Afghanistan, the two reiterated that international military presence should be linked to the security situation on the ground. They affirmed support to Kabul in efforts to establish peaceful dialogue with armed opposition, such as the Taliban, provided the ‘red lines’ of international community are met and ties broken with Al Qaeda.
In a joint statement adopted by the two leaders, they said they have agreed for India to study possibility of joining the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Custom Union, a three-nation economic cooperation grouping. They also said economic cooperation will be the future focus of their special and privileged strategic partnership.
India welcomed Russia’s admission to the World Trade Organisation and Mathai said it will be “a considerable positive enabler” for not only their bilateral trade and investment, but also in expediting the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with the three-nation custom union that an Indian study group will take forward in the immediate future.