As India and Russia inked the much awaited agreement on the last two units of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, nuclear energy experts feel that the cooperation can be furthered by Moscow becoming part of ‘Make In India’ in the nuclear energy field.

R. Rajaraman, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University told TASS Russian News Agency that the Moscow can contribute to the Indian capability by sub-contracting Indian companies to make components for its nuclear reactors.

India and Russia signed the agreement on construction of Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. What does it mean for Indian nuclear program and for Indo-Russian cooperation in this sphere?

The Agreement with Rosatom to build two more reactors (Units 5 and 6) is very welcome. It is an important step in India’s effort to increase its nuclear capacity. It reaffirms the continuing spirit of cooperation between India and Russia.

Russia is the only foreign partner of India in the field of construction of nuclear power plants. What are the reasons behind it?

The original Indian plan is to have reactors built by Russian, American and French builders. But the plans with the US and France have not gone beyond the preliminary stages. In my opinion this is partly due to the fact that reactor builders in both those countries (Westinghouse and Areva respectively) are going through internal problems of their own. This slows down further negotiations and progress.

Meanwhile the Russians have quickly completed all the formalities and signed agreements. This is why at present only the Russian cooperation is functioning.

India approved setting up 10 new own atomic reactors. Do you think that it will affect the cooperation between India and other countries?

I am not in the government, so I cannot speak with certainty. But my impression is that the government’s announcement to build more indigenous reactors will not adversely affect the cooperation with Russia. The two sets of reactors are of different types – the Indian ones will be CANDU reactors while the Russian reactors are light-water reactors (LWR). I believe India needs both types of reactors.

What can Russia do for “Make in India” program in the field of nuclear power?

Russia can contribute to the Make In India program by sub-contracting Indian companies for making some of the components of its future reactors in India.