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20 Nov 2007
Commodity Online
MUMBAI: It is in 'uranium' that India and Russia are going to cement their bilateral ties further. Top Indian officials have said that Russia has offered the country the option of investing in its upcoming international uranium enrichment centre at Angarsk, Siberia.

Earlier this month, India and Russia held talks on how fuel supplies from the Angarsk facility could be considered for units being set up through Russian assistance in the country.

Russians have suggested the possibility of India investing in the centre as one of the ways for India to pay for the nuclear fuel to be supplied the Koodankulam plant in Tamil Nadu.

Officials said Russia has committed to refuel the Koodankulam station throughout its service. The project’s first unit, being built in collaboration with Russian firm Atomstroyexport, is likely to be commissioned in the second half of 2008, the second one in 2009.

The Angarsk International Uranium Enrichment Centre is being set up by Russia for supply of uranium to countries with nuclear energy programmes under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Russia is establishing the project in collaboration with countries such as Kazakhstan under the supervision of the nuclear watchdog at the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant in Eastern Siberia.

India is currently in the process of approaching the IAEA for negotiating India-specific safeguards. Russia is currently helping build two nuclear units with 1,000-MW light water reactors at Koodankulam and talks are in advanced stages for collaborations on four additional units at the same site in the wake of the pact reached between India and Russia in January this year.

Russia had proposed setting up the centre early last year, in the backdrop of tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as a way to safeguard nuclear non-proliferation goals by providing uranium fuel to countries intent on building nuclear power plants, while making sure they do not develop nuclear weapons programmes. According to reports, there has been a general consensus among NSG members about Russia conducting enrichment at such a standalone facility.
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