Amidst threat from the US, India goes into bear hug with Russia

As its partnership with the United States under Trump administration is undergoing strain, India signed an agreement with its age old friend, Russia to further cooperation in the nuclear field. Inked during the 19th India-Russia Bilateral Summit in New Delhi, the Action Plan will pave way for the second nuclear power plant in India to be built by Russia.

“In particular, the Plan envisages moving forward with the project of six nuclear power units of Russian design at a new site in India, more intensive cooperation in third countries, as well as enhanced cooperation in new promising areas of nuclear technology apart from the construction of nuclear power plants,” a press release issued by the Russian state-owned corporation Rosatom said.

The document was signed by the head of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexey Likhachev and by Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy and Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission India Kamlesh Vyas.

The action plan is a follow-up to the ‘Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy’, which was released after Modi-Putin meeting in December 2014 at the 15th India-Russia summit. As per the document, Russia will be building 12 nuclear power units in the next 20 years.

News reports have already been saying that the Indian government will allot a new site at Kavali in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh for Russia to build another atomic power project six Russian VVER-1200 reactors with each having a generation capacity of 1200 MWe. The Nuclear Power Plant on the second site will have Generation 3 plus solutions and with increased level of Indian industry’s involvement and localisation. Once the Indian government makes a formal offer to Russia, the Russian firm will conduct survey to ascertain the feasibility of the site.

The bilateral level has come in the backdrop of the US threatening India against making a defence deal with Russia. However, the number of agreements signed during the Summit indicates that India and Russia tightened their embrace. Even though, the relation between the India and Russia have not been at its warmest in the past couple of years, the nuclear cooperation between the two countries created new landmarks – as New Delhi with the help from Moscow got involved in its first nuclear venture on foreign soil. India and Russia are keen to replicate their successful cooperation model in Bangladesh in other countries as well.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, the only successful venture with a foreign firm, will serve as benchmark for cooperation on the second plant. The Kudankulam plant as 6 units of VVER-1000 nuclear reactors. The first four units of the Plant had 20 per cent indigenous components. The localisation is planned to go up to 50 per cent for the fifth and sixth units of the plant in Kudankulam as well as for all the six units in Kavali.

“We are satisfied with our strategic cooperation with India, where we implement the standardized construction of multiple units of Russian design on the Kudankulam site. We are counting on receiving a contract to implement a standardized construction of multiple units of our design at a new site in India in the same way,” Alexey Likhachev said in a statement.