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India: Russia secures nuclear supply deal

 

The agreement, reached during an official visit by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin to New Delhi last month, underscores Russian determination to grasp a greater share of the expanding, global nuclear-power market.

"We are building a strategic partnership with India in the nuclear sector," Putin told reporters after talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Sergei Kirienko, the head of Rosatom, Russia's state-owned nuclear power company, said six of the 12 nuclear reactors will be delivered to India between 2012 and 2017.

Russia is already supplying technology for two new 1 gigawatt reactors at India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, which are expected to begin operating later this year. It is also negotiating to participate in construction of a nuclear power plant in West Bengal.

Indian plans to boost nuclear power's share in the country's electricity-generation mix to 9% from 4.1% over the next 25 years promises lucrative opportunities for global suppliers of nuclear technology. And Rosatom is eager to offer India more reactors, despite political controversy in New Delhi about a government bill to limit the liability of companies building nuclear plants in the event of accidents. Opposition political parties have refused to approve the legislation, which is intended to attract international nuclear companies such as the US' Westinghouse Electric, GE Hitachi and Areva of France.

Rosatom's Indian agreement dwarfs other foreign nuclear reactor-supply contracts the company is pursuing. It has offered to help fund new nuclear plants in Belarus and Bulgaria in exchange for technology deals, and is negotiating to build a nuclear reactor in Turkey. Rosatom also plans to invest more than $40bn building new nuclear power plants in Russia by 2018.

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