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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 13, February - March 1997

US Asks Russia to Stop India Nuclear Reactors Deal

On 14 February, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin, announced that Russia was intent on proceeding with the sale of two light-water nuclear reactors to be constructed in Kudankulam, India. The deal, a revision of a 1987 agreement suspended in 1991, is reportedly worth around $2 billion. According to Karasin:

"A while ago India proposed reviving the project with Russian participation and work is now under way to make organisational, technical and financial additions to the agreement..."

According to a 6 February report in the New York Times, quoting Yevgeny Reshentnikov, a Deputy Minister from Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry, negotiations are expected to be concluded by the end of March. The same report quoted an unnamed US official as opposing the sale:

"There are two basic problems... One is the Indians. We worry about what the Indians will do with the reactors. We worry about the safety culture. Even a light-water reactor produces a fair amount of plutonium... [The other problem is that] the Russian Federation, as signatories to [a] 1992 [nuclear] suppliers' agreement, should not be selling these controlled nuclear technologies."

Reports suggest that Russia counters this second point with the argument that the deal dates back to 1987 and thus does not need to be scrapped or amended in the light of obligations undertaken five years subsequently. However, Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel, quoted on 18 February, stated simply: "Exports of nuclear power reactors...to India would be of concern."

Reports: US urges Russia to scrap India nuclear deal, Reuter News Reports, 6 February; Russia peddles nuke technology, AP Online International News Wire, 6 February; Russia plans to sell nuclear reactors to India - report, Agence France-Presse International News, 6 February; Russia to go ahead with nuclear project in India, Agence France-Presse International News, 14 February; Russia - nuclear reactor sales on, despite US objections, Inter Press Service International News, 18 February.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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