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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 27, June 1998

Russia Confirms Sale of Reactor to India

On 21 June, Russia and India agreed to reactivate a peaceful nuclear co-operation agreement dormant since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under the terms of a revised accord - signed in New Delhi by Russia's Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov and the head of India's Atomic Energy Commission, R. Chidambaram - Russia will build two 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in the southern State of Tamil Nadu. The Soviet Union first undertook to construct the reactors in 1988. Reports spoke of current project-costs of $3 billion. On 24 June, Adamov spoke with remarkable candour about Russia's motivation - we're proceeding, he said, "because we need the money, we need the work ... We will not be pressured to reject such commercial projects, because we must earn our keep..."

On 22 June, US State Department spokesperson James Rubin strongly criticised the deal, alleging it violated a non-binding understanding established by the 31-State Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) not to supply reactors to States whose nuclear facilities were not covered by full-scope IAEA safeguards. Coming the month after India's five nuclear tests, Rubin said the decision sends "the wrong signal at the wrong time." Rubin added: "It's too close to business as usual. ... We urged Russia not to proceed with the nuclear reactor sale to India as it is not consistent with Russia's obligations as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group... [This] undercuts the good work we have done together in the P-5 and the G-8 to get India to understand that nuclear testing does not bring rewards."

Reports: Russia to sell reactors to India, Associated Press, 14 June; India, Russia set to sign nuclear power deal - report, Reuters, 20 June; India savors Russian nuclear deal, Reuters, 22 June; US deplores Russian nuclear deal with India, Reuters, 22 June; US chafes at Russia-India nuke deal, United Press International, 22 June; Russia, India deal criticized, Associated Press, 23 June; Russia plans Indian nuclear power plant, United Press International, 24 June.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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