Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 93

A senior official from Russia’s atomic energy complex said yesterday that the underground nuclear tests India conducted this week could complicate Moscow-New Delhi negotiations on the nuclear power plant Russia was to build in India. The Kremlin, according to the official, has not made a decision on the issue. Neither have any talks with India taken place since the tests.

The former Soviet Union and India, the official said, first began talks on construction of a nuclear power plant in the southern part of India in 1988. But financial problems meant that no agreement was ever finalized. Talks resumed several years ago, however, and the two sides were reportedly close to signing a contract on a project involving two light-water reactors of the VVER-1000 type. (Itar-Tass, May 13)

In remarks made on May 12, former Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said that Russia should go ahead with the plant’s construction regardless of India’s nuclear tests. (See yesterday’s Monitor) That position would seem consistent with the Kremlin’s stated viewpoint that sanctions against India in reaction to the tests are likely to be counterproductive. At the same time, Moscow is likely to come under pressure during this weekend’s Group of Seven summit to react more strongly to India’s actions. New Delhi is one of Moscow’s key allies in Asia and a major purchaser of Russian military hardware.