Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 139

Officials from Russia’s and India’s nuclear power industries signed a contract in Moscow yesterday calling for Moscow to prepare a design for a nuclear power plant to be built in Kudankulam, India. Officials of Russia’s Ministry of Atomic Energy said that the contract is a preliminary one: A general contract must still be signed before any actual construction work can begin on the project. That contract, they said, could come as early as this fall. (Itar-Tass, July 20)

Yesterday’s agreement nevertheless moves the two countries forward on a project, estimated at more than US$2.5 billion, that calls for Russia to build two light-water VVR-1000 reactors. India and Russia initiated–or reinitiated–the Kudankulam project on June 21 of this year when signing a protocol that activated a 1988 agreement between the Soviet Union and India on construction of the facility. The United States objected to the June 21 agreement on the grounds that it weakened international efforts to punish India for nuclear tests conducted by New Delhi in May. Washington suggested that the agreement also violated informal rules under which the international community agreed not to sell reactor technology to countries–like India–which do not place all of their nuclear facilities under the oversight of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. Moscow has dismissed that argument on the grounds that the Kudankulam project is merely a continuation of the 1988 Indian-Soviet agreement. (See the Monitor, June 23-24)