India's Renewed efforts to sell nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Renewed efforts to sell nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan

India is renewing efforts to sell nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan after a hiatus caused by the turmoil in Kazatomprom following the arrest of several of its senior officials, including its chief executive, on charges of embezzlement.

If India manages to convince Kazakhstan about the efficacy of its reactors over Russian ones, this would be the first-ever export of indigenously designed and manufactured reactors, official sources said.

The sale of the reactors will be outside the civil nuclear Inter-Governmental Agreement being negotiated between the two countries, which envisages the import of uranium and cooperation in mining and training of personnel.

Kazakhstan has consistently ranked among the world's top three producers of uranium and has tied up with a Japanese nuclear major to further modernise its uranium mining industry.

Two options

At present, the country is evaluating two options. The first is the possibility of importing 220 MW pressurised heavy reactors from India, and the second, to continue importing the much larger Russian VVER reactors.

The stream of opinion in Astana favouring the Indian reactors believes that they are ideal for a huge country with scattered population. On the other hand, Kazakhstan has extremely close ties with Russia and was the last to secede from the Soviet Union.

Their proximity was demonstrated recently when Moscow shelved plans to individually join the World Trade Organisation. It entered into a customs union with Kazakhstan and Belorussia and plans to jointly approach the WTO for membership.

Ties began on a promising note when India became the first foreign destination (apart from other countries of the erstwhile Soviet Union) for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev after his country became independent. Both countries stepped up their engagements after a brief spell of lukewarm ties, with Mr. Nazarbayev being the chief guest at the Independence Day celebrations here last year.

While cooperation in other spheres — chiefly oil and gas, besides refurbishment of Soviet era utilities plants — has progressed well, Kazakhstan's nuclear cooperation with some countries was marred by the arrest of the then Kazatomprom chief Moukhtar Dzhakishev for embezzlement, and his subsequent sentencing.

With the company getting its bearings back, New Delhi hopes the old ally will be the first destination of made-in-India nuclear power plants.

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