India Yet to Decide on Russia's EPR Proposal: Sources

New Delhi
India Yet to Decide on Russia's EPR Proposal: Sources
India is looking at an ambitious proposal by Russia for setting up a joint enrichment and reprocessing facility in their soil, which could help skirt the tough new NSG guidelines, but has not reached a conclusion yet, official sources said today.

The sources said India will be looking at how the new concept will play out while noting that it will be part of continuing negotiations to expand its nuclear cooperation with Russia.

The government assessment was given against the backdrop of Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin's remarks that Moscow is awaiting India's response.

The sources said India was looking into the proposal but has not reached any conclusion yet.

The sources at the same time noted that India possessed the technology relating to the full nuclear fuel cycle.

The assessment came ahead of the 12th annual Indo-Russian Summit in Moscow to be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Kremlin tomorrow.

The proposal envisages a joint venture company that will be based in Russia to enrich and reprocess spent nuclear fuel collected from Indian nuclear plants for re-use.

The proposal on joint facility if implemented will help India get past the new energy criteria which stated that enrichment and reprocessing technology transfer will be allowed only to countries that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India is not a signatory to the controversial NPT.

According to Russian side, the proposed facility will enable Moscow to comply with its obligations to India and at the same time not violate any international law, with regards the NPT.

The sources said the option of Haripur in West Bengal being a site for a Russian nuclear plant has not been closed.

Russia has been pressing for alternative sites in the wake of protests in the area.

On Indo-Russian defence cooperation, the sources said problems persisted over supply of spare parts from Moscow and hoped that it would be sorted out.

The sources however said it was not an India-specific problem. At the same time, they noted that it was a view of the armed forces that the supply of spare parts should not hinder its modernisation programme.

Answering questions on Prime Minister's statement that China will not attack India, the sources said it was based on an assessment.

They said no firm date has been set for the 15 round of boundary negotiations between Special Representatives of the two countries which was postponed last month.

Singh had yesterday told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that "Our government does not share the view that China plans to attack India."

Emphasising that the border between the two countries was, by and large, peaceful, he had said the policy of both New Delhi and Beijing was to engage in dialogue on the border issue though there had not been much progress in recent times.

Asked about China setting up a base in Seychelles, sources said it appeared more to do with beefing up anti-piracy operations in the Indian ocean region.

Noting that this development reaffirmed the nervousness of small countries in the region to pirate attacks, the sources said adding India will keep a watch.

On Russia's impending accession to the WTO, the sources hoped that it will give a boost to Indo-Russia trade which is way below the potential.

The bilateral trade currently hovers around USD 10 billion and a target of USD 20 billion by 2015 has been set.
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