On December 7 Ambassador of Russia to India held a press conference for the leading Indian media and described the current state and prospects of bilateral relations.
PM’s visit: India, Russia to sign upto 9 pacts
NEW DELHI: India and Russia are expected to sign upto nine agreements in the fields of military, energy and trade during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow next week and are on course to finalise a pact to build Kudankulam nuclear plant's third and fourth units.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin spoke about the prospects of the two countries signing seven to nine pacts at a news conference where he also said Russian Navy will "soon" hand over to India the Akula-II class nuclear submarine K-152 Nerpa to be rechristened INS Chakra.
Singh leaves for Moscow on December 15 on a three-day visit to attend the annual India-Russia Summit the next day.
Kadakin said despite the "internal" problems in India on the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu Russia is looking forward to expand its nuclear cooperation with this country. The commissioning of the first two reactors at the plant in Tirunelveli district has been stalled due to protests by locals.
"We are looking for agreement not just for units three and four but also units five and six and seven and eight and beyond," he added.
Kadakin declined to give any specfic time-frame for the delivery of the nuclear attack submarine. Russian Navy chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky recently said the Indian crew is "now absolutely prepared" for operating the submarine which will be on a 10-year lease. The lease contract is estimated at some 900 million USD.
President Dmitry Medyvdev will head the Russian side at the summit which comes days after Sunday's Duma polls that were marred by allegations of irregularities.
The parliamentary election were won by Prime Minister Vladmir Putin's United Russia party albeit by a reduced margin, but the results, being considered rigged by many, seem to have sparked the biggest ever anti-Putin wave with protests being held in Moscow.
Kadakin hoped that the civil nuclear liability rules framed by India will not hamper atomic cooperation between India and Russia.
"We are hopeful that the rules will not come in the way of implementation of the grand plan of nuclear cooperation (between India and Russia)," he said. The first two reactors at Kudankulam will not be governed by the country's nuke liability laws as the agreement was signed several years ago.
Kadakin also said India would continue to enjoy the waiver it received in 2008 from the Nuclear Suppliers Group's(NSG) export ban.
His comments came against the backdrop of India objecting to the new guidelines adopted this year by the NSG on the export of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing equipment which include membership in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a condition for supply.
The Russian Ambassador voiced concern at the low level of Indo-Russian trade for which a target of 20 billion dollars has been fixed for 2015. The current bilateral trade volume is around 10 billion dollars. In contrast, he said the trade between Russia and China was around 60 billion dollars.
Kadakin spoke in glowing terms about the state of Indo-Russian ties, saying no power on earth can stop the two countries from expanding their cooperation in variou spheres.
"India is a superpower in the making," he said, adding that the two countries enjoyed a "special and privileged" partnership.
The Ambassador also expressed confidence that delays in supply of military spare parts will be sorted out by next year.
Elaborating on Indo-Russian Defence ties, which has been the bedrock of bilateral cooperation, Kadakin said work on development of the ambitious co-production of fifth generation fighter aircraft was proceeding well.
"Work on the aircraft is proceeding well. There are no obstacles," he added.
PM-Russia 2 last
President Dmitry Medyvdev will head the Russian side at President Dmitry Medyvdev will head the Russian side at the summit which comes days after Sunday's Duma polls that were marred by allegations of irregularities. The parliamentary election were won by Prime Minister Vladmir Putin's United Russia party albeit by a reduced margin, but the results, being considered rigged by many, seem to have sparked the biggest ever anti-Putin wave with protests being held in Moscow. Kadakin hoped that the civil nuclear liability rules framed by India will not hamper atomic cooperation between India and Russia. "We are hopeful that the rules will not come in the way of implementation of the grand plan of nuclear cooperation (between India and Russia)," he said. The first two reactors at Kudankulam will not be governed by the country's nuke liability laws as the agreement was signed several years ago. Kadakin also said India would continue to enjoy the waiver it received in 2008 from the Nuclear Suppliers Group's(NSG) export ban. His comments came against the backdrop of India objecting to the new guidelines adopted this year by the NSG on the export of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing equipment which include membership in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a condition for supply. The Russian Ambassador voiced concern at the low level of Indo-Russian trade for which a target of 20 billion dollars has been fixed for 2015. The current bilateral trade volume is around 10 billion dollars. In contrast, he said the trade between Russia and China was around 60 billion dollars. Kadakin spoke in glowing terms about the state of Indo-Russian ties, saying no power on earth can stop the two countries from expanding their cooperation in variou spheres. "India is a superpower in the making," he said, adding that the two countries enjoyed a "special and privileged" partnership. The Ambassador also expressed confidence that delays in supply of military spare parts will be sorted out by next year.
N-energy, military ties focus of Indian PM's Moscow visit
New Delhi, Dec 7
Ahead of a three-day Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh'svisit to Moscow from Dec 15-17, Russian Ambassador Alexander M. Kadakin Wednesday said that the focus of the summit beween the leaders of the two countries this time will be on expanding nuclear energy cooperation and building on long-standing military ties.
Kadakin told reporters here that India and Russia will be looking foward to signing of about half-a-dozen agreements in the nuclear energy, defence and economic cooperation during Singh's visit.
He added that after 10 years of "strategic" ties, the two countries had redefined their relations as a "special and privileged" diplomatic partnership. He said Russia will be with India "rain or shine".
Referring to the last year's visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to India when "an unprecedented" 33 agreements were signed, he said during this visit, though the number of agreements will be less, the quality of the pacts would be far greater.
"Last year was an unprecedented year. During the summit meeting between Medvedev and Singh, 33 agreements were signed and three were signed behind the curtain. 2010 was unprecedented. India was only country that both Russian president and Prime Minister visited in one year. It is Himalayan relations," he said.
"This time it is business...official visit...it will be energy sctor, military field," Kadakin said when asked what are the areas in which agreements would be signed during the forthcoming visit of Singh to Moscow.
Among the agreements likely is one on Blocks III and IV at the Koodankulam nuclear plant in southern Tamil Nadu, which is already witnessing protests by local villagers over safety of the project following the Japanese Fukushima disaster earlier this year.
"Talks are in progress and at a very active stage about Units III and IV (of Koondankulam) Let us expect they complete it," Kadakin said when asked about the proposal.
Kadakin said Russia has proposed to expand the existing Koodankulam plant and have blocks III and IV in the near future, and to go even further for V and VI, and even in some distant future VII and VIII too if space was available.
On the talks of Haripur in West Bengal being another nuclear plant to use Russian reactors, Kadakin said it was not a concrete proposal and just a name that came up for discussion.
Considering that Haripur was geologically much worse than Koodankulam and the ground situation due to fishermen's movement and state government's stand, India had agreed to suggest and new site for the nuclear plant and names of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh had come up for discussion.
He said Russia was ready to build the nuclear plant at any site that India chooses, but over the last one year, no new site had been proposed.
"We are ready to build. Where it will be convenient, it is India's choise not Russian choice," he said.
On the liability laws that India has introduced for nuclear plants, Kadakin said it would not be applicable to Koodankulam, as the agreement had been signed much before these rules came into being. He said Russia expected that the agreement that governed Koodankulam's units I and II would also govern units III and IV and that that is how Mowcow would want it to be.
On the Nuclear Suppliers Group's 2008 waiver to India and its recent decision on curtailing transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies, Kadakin said Russia would follow all bilateral agreements in the field of nuclear energy with India and at the same time comply with international non-proliferation rules.
"We expect that our nuclear cooperation, in spite of all odds and all your internal problems, will continue and we are ready to assist India in this. We have the roadmap that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed last March, under which 14 to 16 power blocks with 1 gigabytes are planned. We are implementing this roadmap. Nuclear energy and cooperation in energy sector will be the major guideline of the forthcoming visit," he added.
In the sphere of defence, the two sides are expected to sign further agreements on joint development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and multirole transport aircraft, apart from discussing the progress of the BrahMos missile programme.
"We have signed the most important agreements before and we cannot judge the visit by number of agreements. Let's judge it by the quality and then only we can call it a success," he said, and noted that during last year's visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and American President Barack Obama only about three or four agreements were signed.
Kadakin said it was "understandable and easily explainable" why India-Russia summit meetings attract so much of attention globally.
"Our countries have been for over a decade strategic partners," Kadakin said, noting that the phrase "strategic partnership" had been diluted and reduced in value in recent times and had become a fashionable usage in diplomatic relations.
"I want to stress that strategic partnership was introduced in diplomacy for the first time ever by India and Russia when they signed a partnership in October 2000. We are the path-breakers and pioneers," he said.
Russian n-sub for Indian Navy coming soon: Envoy
New Delhi : India's bid to have a Russian-built nuclear-powered submarine in its fleet on a 10-year lease will fructify in the next few months, with Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin Wednesday saying it is "coming" soon.
Asked about the Akula-II submarine that India wants to operate to gain experience in the use of nuclear-powered underwater vessel, Kadakin, who was briefing the Indian media on the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Moscow Dec 15-17, said: "It is in the pipeline."
"It is coming," he said, even as he professed to maintain the confidentiality clause between the two nations on the deal.
On Sunday, a top Indian defence ministry official confirmed that the nuclear submarine, which Indian proposes to rechristen as INS Chakra, was indeed all set to join the Indian Navy fleet.
The K-152 Nerpa submarine, a Shchuka class (NATO call sign Akula II) vessel, was originally set for induction in the Indian Navy in 2009.
But soon after it was taken out for sea trials in late 2008, the vessel had an accident leading to the death of nearly 20 Russian naval personnel who were testing the newly-built submarine after sailing it out from the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard near Vladivostok, the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet base.
India previously had leased a Charlie I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991 to gain experience in operating a nuclear-powered submarine.
India is also building an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, named INS Arihant, which is expected to go for sea trials in the first half of next year, off the Visakhapatnam coast in the Bay of Bengal.
India News, by IANS
India, Russia in talks on JV to circumvent NSG restrictions
The deal envisages setting up a joint venture company that will be based in Russia
New Delhi: India and Russia are discussing a deal that could help New Delhi skirt restrictions passed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that make it difficult for India to access sensitive nuclear technology, Russia’s ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said on Wednesday. The NSG controls global nuclear commerce.
Deepening ties: A file photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (right) with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Singh will be visiting Russia next week. Photo: PIBThe deal envisages setting up a joint venture company that will be based in Russia, Kadakin told reporters at a press conference ahead of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia next week.
The proposed firm will enrich and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, collected from Indian nuclear power plants, for reuse, a Russian diplomat, who did not wish to be named, explained. A person close to the developments from the Indian side confirmed the deal has been on the table for almost a year.
If agreed to, the deal will help India get past the new NSG criteria passed in June this year that states that enrichment and reprocessing technology transfers will be allowed only to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The new criteria directly hits the special exception granted to India by the group in 2008. India is not a signatory to the NPT and conducted nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.
“We should examine the proposals and see how best we can harmonize it with our (India-Russia) respective nuclear positions,” C.U. Bhaskar, senior fellow with the National Maritime Foundation think tank, said about the Russian offer.
Russia is the only member of the NSG that “has proposed to India a way out which is a bilateral deal,” Kadakin said. “This can be done on the territory of the Russian Federation.”
“By this we shall comply with our obligations to our Indian friends and at the same time not violate any international law as regards non-proliferation,” Kadakin said.
The new NSG guidelines directly hit the special exception granted to India by the group in 2008 that followed India promising to set up in India a dedicated facility—under international safeguards—to reprocess uranium procured from abroad for its nuclear power plants.
The NSG waiver allowed India, as an exception, to buy power plants, equipment and technology from the international market without acceding to pacts like the NPT.
Access to know-how for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel and enriching fuel was implicit in this exemption that came after India agreed to put its civilian nuclear power plants under international safeguards. India had said it was concerned by the new rules and sought assurances from partners such as Russia, France and the US for the full implementation of the 2008 waiver.
On cooperation in civil nuclear energy, Kadakin said he hoped the nuclear liability law passed by the Indian Parliament last year would not impede India-Russia collaboration.
Russia is already constructing two 1,000 megawatts capacity power plants in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and plans to add as many as six more units under the same project.
While the two units under construction are exempt from the provisions of the liability law as the agreement under which they are being constructed was signed in 1998, Kadakin said he hoped units three and four—the deal for which was signed recently— would also be exempt from the provisions of the law.
The liability Act passed by Parliament last year states that foreign suppliers of nuclear material to Indian nuclear power plants would not be held liable for accidents caused by defective or faulty equipment supplied by them if the accident takes place after a guarantee period specified by them. Suppliers of nuclear material would be allowed to specify a “product liability period” beyond which they would not be held liable for any accident.
Kudankulum N-plant: Moscow sees rivals' hand in stir
Sachin Parashar, Times of India
NEW DELHI: Just ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Moscow, Russia lashed out at protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power project saying that the disruptions may have been stage managed by its rivals.
Russia's ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin said Russian authorities had "great suspicion" about the events at Kudankulum, where the final stage before commissioning of two power plants built with Russian cooperation has been on hold due to post-Fukushima protests. The two units are 98% complete.
"We still don't know why it took six months for the protests to erupt after Fukushima and also who are the people paying for the food and shamiana used by the protesters," said Kadakin. While he didn't name any country, he did not rule out the involvement of Russia's rivals in stoking trouble.
Protesters at the site are local fisher-folks but the activities of foreign anti-nuclear activists, reportedly from US, has been spoken of while church organizations have also supported the stir.
The ambassador, however, said the trouble at Kudankulam will not impair Indo-Russian nuclear cooperation and Moscow will implement plans including units 3 and 4 at the Tamil Nadu site. Negotiations have intensified in the run up to the PM's two-day visit to Moscow next week.
The likelihood of Russia bargaining hard is evident with Kadakin suggesting Moscow does not just want these two remaining units at Kudankulam to be covered completely by India's new civil nuclear liability law, rules for which were notified recently. Russia is expecting "same terms of liability" as Kudankulam units 1 and 2 that are not under the purview of the new law.
The new law has caused discomfort to nuclear suppliers as they are open to being legally prosecuted by operators of nuclear plants under the "right to recourse" for faulty parts or design.
This has been partially circumscribed by rules providing a time limitation and a cap on liability but foreign suppliers are worried by higher insurance costs as well as the risk of legal cases.
"I would not say we are happy or not happy with the rules. Talks are in active stage for Kudankulam 3 and 4 and we really hope that India's liability law and rules don't interfere with our grand plans for nuclear energy expansion here. We believe that if everything from our side is the same as earlier, we too must get the same terms of liability," said Kadakin.
During Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to India in December last year, even as they signed an agreement for expansion of nuclear energy cooperation, the two countries did not finalize a deal for Kudankulam 3 and 4 due to concerns over the liability law and pricing issues.
On the contentious issue of NSG effectively banning any enrichment and reprocessing technology transfer to India, a non-NPT nation, the ambassador said Russia was the only country to have offered India a way out by proposing a joint reprocessing plant on Russian soil.
TOI reported on November 3 that Russia is insisting on setting up such a plant in Russia to take care of its international obligations as well as bilateral commitments in the civil nuclear deal with India.
"It is a dual approach plan and if the Indians want, they can even own shares in the unit. The plant will be in accordance with all international laws," he added. The PM has said that the nuclear deal with Russia is crucial because it goes beyond supply of reactors "to areas of research and development and a whole range of areas in nuclear energy".
Russia alone proposed a way out of tightened NSG rules, says envoy
It is awaiting India's reply to proposal, says envoy
Russia is awaiting India's reply to its proposal for finding a way out of tough Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) rules on transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) equipment and technology.
In combative mode, especially on American claims of doing all the heavy lifting to bring India into the nuclear commerce mainstream, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said, “We are the only country which has proposed a way out” after the NSG, in June this year, tightened rules on export of ENR equipment and technology.
Russia has offered to host an ENR unit on its soil and offered shares to India. This formula will enable Russia to “comply with its obligation to Indian friends and not violate international obligations with respect to non-proliferation,” Mr. Kadakin said at a curtain-raiser press conference ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's departure to Moscow a week later.
Of the three ENR majors, France has offered verbal comfort, the U.S. is non-committal and Russia has come up with this proposal after the NSG, despite hectic lobbying by India and Turkey, adopted new guidelines for export of sensitive nuclear technology this June.
“This dual approach will help us with strict international laws. I don't think the Americans have a proposal in this regard. We don't need their ABC of nuclear cooperation. We can write our ABC with India,” Mr. Kadakin said.
India has contested the strengthened NSG guidelines on sale of ENR technology to countries like itself that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. South Block has told India's civil nuclear allies that the 2008 exemption it received was a comprehensive one and should be unaffected by any changes adopted after that decision. If a comparison is made between the sanguineness shown by Mr. Kadakin two years ago and the observations he made on Wednesday, it is clear that a section of the nuclear non-proliferation hawks has tightened the screws on India. What is common is that at that time too, he was confident of both countries finding a way out if the guidelines were tightened.
During his press interaction, Mr. Kadakin reiterated the Russian desire for implementation of the road map to set up over a dozen civil nuclear reactors. He expressed the hope that the next two reactors planned for Kudankulam (in Tamil Nadu) would not come under the Liability Law which imposed additional costs on equipment suppliers. Kudankulam's first two units are out of the Liability Law because the agreements were signed much before it was even drafted.
As all other terms and conditions for Kudankulam III and IV were the same as for the first two units, no additional burden [which would happen if the Liability Law was applicable] should be imposed in any manner, Mr. Kadakin argued.
The envoy said India and Russia might sign up to nine agreements including in the fields of military, energy and trade during the Prime Minister's visit.