Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4775, 15 December 2014

Strategic Space

India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Manpreet Sethi
ICSSR Senior Fellow affiliated with the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

As expected, Russian President Valdimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi covered all the usual areas of cooperation during the former’s visit to New Delhi on 11 December, 2014. Russia has been India’ close partner over decades and the latter has reiterated the importance of the relationship in contemporary times too. The Druzhba Dosti Vision Statement (VS) covers the period of the next decade, anchored in a special strategic partnership.

Obviously, the nuclear component of this relationship, which traverses the entire range of activities from fuel fabrication to plant decommissioning, is especially noteworthy. Building on the agreements signed by both in 2008 and 2010, the 2014 Strategic Vision for Strengthening Atomic Energy Cooperation envisages the construction of a dozen nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. It may be recalled that Kudankulam (KK) 1, India's first Russian reactor, attained full-rated power in 2014, and KK 2 is nearly ready too. Meanwhile, a General Framework Agreement was signed in April 2014 for the construction of KK 3 and 4 at the same site.

The next tranche of Russian nuclear reactors will require fresh site(s). The 2014 nuclear cooperation VS mentions that the construction of future nuclear plants would take into account “India’s demand for power, the then available nuclear technologies including those that may be developed jointly, mutually acceptable technical and commercial terms, and the prevalent electricity tariffs.” Evidently and wisely, a lot has been left to the consideration of factors prevalent in the future.

The Agreement also emphasises the involvement of Indian suppliers of manufacturing equipment, fuel assemblies and spares for Russian reactors to be constructed in India. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of India's decision to import reactors from the international nuclear market has been the insistence on including a large local component into their construction. Even before Modi vocalised ‘Make in India’, the nuclear sector has always been bound by this dictum. In fact, until 2008, it did not have the option of foreign material, technology or components. Retaining that focus while realising the ambitious national nuclear expansion plans would certainly open employment opportunities for the millions of young engineers and technicians passing out of the Indian education system annually. In fact, another important aspect of the VS in this context is the prospect of exploring “opportunities for sourcing materials, equipment and services from Indian industry for the construction of the Russian-designed nuclear power plants in third countries.”

Given that the Russian nuclear industry is keen on exports, this would enhance the capability and capacity of the Indian nuclear industry through necessary transfer of technology.

The Statement also mentions joint extraction of natural uranium through technical cooperation in mining activities, “within their own territories and in third countries.” This would be significant for India if it is to fulfill its nuclear expansion ambitions without having to worry about the availability of fuel.  At the same time, collaboration on radioactive waste management, research and development on fusion reactors etc. are all forward-looking aspects of the VS.

So, what stands in the way of realising the potential of the vision of the statement? A few issues must be given due consideration. First, the identification of fresh site(s) for the new Russian reactors may not be as easy as it sounds. Given that public acceptance issues have acquired a worrisome dimension in the post-Fukushima environment, the acquisition of necessary land will call for much greater investment, and not just monetary, by the nuclear establishment to reach out to the constituencies to inform and educate them with the objective of winning them over.

Second, the Indian nuclear liability law will require amendments to become palatable to the nuclear industry anywhere, at home or abroad. While rather cryptically, Russian government officials have “in principle” agreed to the Indian nuclear liability law, this has been done after factoring in the costs involved in the process. According to some reports, the first and second units of the Kudankulam nuclear power plants had cost India $1 billion each, but new units will cost triple the amount in view of India's nuclear liability law. Even if this may be an exaggeration, it must not be forgotten that any nuclear industry, including Russian, is in the business of doing business. The cost will be handed down to India only.

In such a situation, critics of nuclear power will jump at the opportunity to drum up opposition to construction of new nuclear plants on the ground of the high costs. Economics of nuclear reactors has always been a matter of concern. In the past, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. has contended that its Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors have been comparable in cost to other sources of electricity. But, a high cost of imported reactors, owing to the nuclear liability law imposing a huge burden on any nuclear industry, would put a black mark against nuclear power.

Therefore, it would be a good idea to take a fresh look at the issue so as to be able to make use of the opportunities that have opened up for India in the field of international nuclear commerce. Amendment of the law is not to appease outsiders but to make nuclear power an implementable viable option for India itself.

A VS may be crafted when the decision-makers see potential, but it can only be realised when they also see and address the challenges that stand in the way.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-EU Partnership for Non-Proliferation: Challenges and Opportunities

‘Gas Chamber’ Cities and Dangers Nuclear

Meaningful Disarmament, Not Unnecessary Distractions

The Bomb Banned: By and For the NNWS, For Now

Stabilising Deterrence: Doctrines Score Over Numbers

Chinese Responsibility on DPRK: No ‘Theory’, Immutable Reality

Indian Nuclear Policy and Diplomacy

New NPR: Can It Break New Ground?

US-North Korea Military Swashbuckling and China's Role

Nuclear Ban Treaty Conference and Universal Nuclear Disarmament

Forecast 2017: Unclear Nuclear Pathways

Limits of Practising Nuclear Brinksmanship

Presidential Elections and US Nuclear Policy: Clinton Vs Trump

Preparing for Radiological Emergencies and Terrorism

Motivating Pakistan to Prevent Cross–Border Terrorism: With a Little Help from Friends

JCPOA’s First Anniversary: Significance and Future Challenges

Entry into the NSG: Getting Past the Doorman

Same Age, Different Behaviour: Nuclear India and Nuclear Pakistan

Nuclear Security Summit Process: Progress and Prognosis

Pak's Nuclear 'Normality' through External Deals: Chasing a Chimera

Forecast 2016: Nuclear Issues That Will Dominate the Year

Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route

Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

Uranium and Nuclear Power: Three Indian Stories

A Strategic Review for India

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.