TN nuke protests ‘inspired’: Moscow envoy

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    TN nuke protests ‘inspired’: Moscow envoy



    New Delhi: Moscow’s envoy to Delhi Alexander Kadakin today said the protests against the Russian-designed Kudankulam nuclear power project were “inspired” but refused to say who he suspected were behind the propaganda.


    The ambassador also hinted that Moscow was less than enthused about India’s civil nuclear liability rules that propose to pin liability on both operators and suppliers of reactors if there is an accident.
    The comments came days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves for Moscow on December 15 for a three-day trip to attend the annual India-Russia Summit the next day with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.


    The commissioning of the first two reactors at the Kudankulam plant, in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, has been stalled because of the protests by local residents over fears of radiation. Kadakin declined to elaborate on who or what kind of interest groups may have “inspired” the 51-day-old protests, but said that despite the “internal” problems, Moscow looked forward to expanding nuclear co-operation with Delhi.


    “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 told a media conference. About the liability laws, Kadakin said: “We are hopeful that the rules will not come in the way of implementation of the grand plan of nuclear co-operation (between India and Russia).”


    The first two reactors at Kudankulam will not be governed by the liability laws as the agreement for these had been signed over a decade back. But the Russians have questioned why the third and fourth reactors — the agreement to build these units at Kudankulam is in the works — couldn’t also have been left out of the purview of the rules, given Moscow and Delhi’s close co-operation in this sector.


    The envoy allayed fears in some quarters in India about the new Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines on export of enrichment and reprocessing equipment as Delhi is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty. Kadakin said India, which is not part of the NSG, would continue to enjoy the waivers it received in 2008 for nuclear commerce with the 45-member group.


    The envoy said India and Russia were likely to ink up to nine agreements in defence, energy co-operation and trade during Singh’s visit to Moscow. He said the Russia’s navy would “soon” hand over the Akula-II-class nuclear submarine K-152 Nerpa, which will be rechristened INS Chakra, but didn’t specify any time frame for the delivery.


    Russian navy chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky had recently said Indian crew were “now absolutely prepared” for operating the submarine, which will be handed over on a 10-year lease on a contract estimated to be approximately $900 million. Kadakin stressed the need to increase bilateral trade from its current level of $10 billion. The two countries have set a target of $20 billion by 2015. He said India and Russia would continue to deepen their friendship. “India is a superpower in the making and our relations enjoy a special and privileged place,” Kadakin added.

    TN nuke protests ‘inspired’: Moscow envoy
     
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