//Russian supplies to Tarapur worry US

Russian supplies to Tarapur worry US

DOUBLE DEAL: Russia had already notified the NSG about its decision to supply fuel to Tarapur

Updated Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at 14:29

New Delhi: India on Tuesday quickly moved into damage control after US expressed reservation over a Russian move to supply fuel for the Tarapur nuclear reactor.

India’s Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the Russian offer does not impact the Indo-US deal in any way and is not a violation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines.

The Indo-Russia deal is likely to be signed when Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov visits India this week.

India is in dire need of the Russian deal as Tarapur has been facing crippling fuel shortages.

Indicating its reservation on Russia’s move to supply fuel for the Tarapur nuclear reactor, the US has said any such step should be taken after India fulfils its obligations under the historic Indo-US nuclear deal.

“We recognise that they (India) have need for fuel. And we think that deals to supply that fuel should move forward on the basis of a joint initiative, on the basis of steps that India will take that it has not yet taken,” US State Department acting spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters referring to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

He was asked about the supply of nuclear fuel to India by Russia and if Washington had the details. “Well, and I’m not going to. I’m not in a position to go into the deal. I don’t have the details. I haven’t seen any sort of official statements of the deal. President (George W) Bush has been very outspoken and I think visionary in trying to develop a framework within the international system to ensure the safe and secure supply of nuclear fuel through the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Ereli said.

“And specifically with regard to India, we have a very forward-looking and really history-making initiative, joint initiative, to address India’s nuclear programme, to separate the military from the civilian, and to bring India into compliance with NPT obligations and work based on that with a Nuclear Suppliers Group to give it access to the kind of fuel supplies that it’s looking for,” he said.

On Tuesday, an Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman had claimed that Russia had agreed to supply nuclear fuel for Tarapur for its Safeguarded Units one and two and already notified the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

"Russia has agreed to supply fuel to the safeguarded units one and two of the Tarapur to enable the plant to provide electricity to the Western Grid," he said at a media briefing.

He said Russia had already notified the NSG about its decision to supply fuel to Tarapur under the Safety Guidelines for transfer—the Safety Exception Clause of the NSG.