India, Russia talk small modular reactors, pushes for Kudankulam completion | Latest News India

    India, Russia talk small modular reactors, pushes for Kudankulam completion | Latest News India

    India and Russia have decided to expand their civilian nuclear cooperation, with Moscow willing to share technology for a small modular reactor used in power generation, even as both sides are pushing towards the completion of Phase 1 the of 6,000MW Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu, according to people familiar the matter. The small modular reactors – these are advanced nuclear reactors — have a power generation capacity of 75MW to 300MW.

    External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 27.

    India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar completed his five days visit to Russia today, and the people cited above said that the two sides are pushing to commission Reactors 3 and 4 while speeding up the work on Reactors 5 and 6 at the Kudankulam nuclear project at a time when the US Westinghouse-supported 6,600MW Kovvada nuclear project and the French Areva-supported 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear project are stalled over price negotiations. Only Reactors 1 and 2 of Kudankulam are operational at the moment, providing 2,000MW of electricity to the country.

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    While Jaishankar met Russian deputy prime minister Denis Manturov and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, he had a rare and unexpected interaction with Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 27. It is understood that Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his regret to Putin for not making it to Moscow for the annual summit this year due to his commitments towards the G20 summit, with an assurance that the 2024 summit would go ahead.

    Jaishankar’s visit to Russia comes at a time when the latter takes over the presidency of the BRICS platform, and the two countries are looking at future joint ventures in the military systems on the lines of the Brahmos missile and AK-203 rifle projects under the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India) rubric. One of the areas of a possible joint venture is the manufacture of Kamov 226 T multi-purpose helicopters, the people cited above said.

    While President Putin has appreciated India’s strategic autonomy under Modi, New Delhi has managed to maintain close ties with Moscow without China coming into the bilateral equation. Russia supplies nearly 65% of Indian military hardware, and it is understood that the two sides need to firm up spare parts supplies that have been hit by delays due to Russia’s war with Ukraine. While three out of five S-400 surface-to-air missile systems have been delivered by Russia to India, New Delhi is looking at receiving an Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine on a long-term lease from Moscow in 2025, the people said.

    In the backdrop of Iran-backed Houthis attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, India is also holding talks with Russia to explore the northern sea route in the worst-case scenario. One fallout of global warming caused by the climate crisis is that the northern sea route for commercial shipping for may be usable for a larger part of the year without fear of encountering ice and inclement weather. While India has investments in the oil and gas sector in northern Russia, it was President Putin who supplied crude to India at discounted rates to ensure that oil prices did not catch fire due to Ukraine war.

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