Will India Accept Russia’s Civil Nuclear Proposal Over Delhi’s New Best Friend France?

As the summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin is imminent, Russia plans to put forth a proposal for a contract to build six more nuclear power reactors in India. Russia sees this as a great opportunity to further propel the economic partnership between New Delhi and Moscow and cement bilateral ties.

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The two leaders will be meeting in Vladivostok next week to discuss a wide range of bilateral issues. But will India having found a new best friend in France, be interested to talk about civil nuclear arrangements with Russia?

Nuclear energy the fundamental of strategic relationship: Russia

Russia’s Ambassador to India declared at the press conference in New Delhi that Russia will also offer the Indian companies a share of nuclear power projects in third countries. He further announced that a new momentum will be given to new forms of collaboration in the military and military-technical cooperation to boost economic relations between the two nations.

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The Deputy Ambassador further endorsed that nuclear energy constitutes the fundamental building block for a strategic partnership between New Delhi and Moscow.

The Russian representatives further suggested that India and Russia could jointly construct nuclear power plants in third nations beginning with the Rooppur nuclear plant in Bangladesh. Russia is looking forward to expand nuclear cooperation with India extensively on the lines of up to date technologies which are the safest in the world.

India-France Civil Nuclear Deal

In recent times, looking at the shift of diplomatic priorities of New Delhi, it seems like France has replaced Russia as Delhi’s best friend. In recent bilateral meetings held between the leaders of India and France, a wide spectrum of bilateral issues were discussed including the Jaitapur nuclear project which both countries aim to build together in Maharashtra.

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“Once installed, the Jaitapur project will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world, with a total capacity of 9.6 gigawatts,” according to a joint statement issued Saturday by the governments during Macron’s visit to India.

French state-run reactor maker Areva SA signed an initial agreement in 2009 with Nuclear Power for the Jaitapur project following a civil nuclear cooperation accord between the governments. After Areva’s restructuring, EDF in 2016 signed an initial pact with the Indian atomic energy producer to supply six reactors at Jaitapur, a small town on India’s western coast known for its mango and coconut orchards.

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EDF will undertake all the studies and component purchases for the first two reactors. For the remaining four, some of those activities could be assigned to local companies, according to an emailed statement from the French supplier.