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|June 26, 1998||
Russia says no to Pak request for nuclear reactor
Moscow has outright rejected Islamabad's request to set up a nuclear power plant in Pakistan.
It has, in fact not even discussed Pakistan's proposal, reports Novosti, quoting Viktor Mikhailov, the former Russian nuclear energy minister.
Moscow's refusal is based on an international agreement that limits exports to nations that spend a part of receipts on military programmes. With reference to India's Koodankulam project, it was said that was agreed upon much before the international agreement was signed.
The international law, Mikhailov clarified yesterday, had no retrospective force. The US, he reminded, had been adopting a negative stand on the Indo-Russian Koodankulam atomic power plant even before India's nuclear tests. Therefore the its stand was untenable, he declared.
Besides, India's project was fully covered by the guarantees of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said.
Answering a question on whether India would curtail its nuclear programme, Mikhailov said it did not depend on the Russian delivery of reactors. Subtly taking a dig at the sanctions imposed on India by Canada, he said Canada has in the past supplied heavy water reactors to India.
Though it was not a signatory to the NPT, India's Koodankulam project to be set up with Russian credit totalling nearly two billion dollars, fully complies with the provisions of the NPT, Mikhailov felt.
Making an interesting disclosure on the Koodankulam nuclear reactors project, Mikhailov said the initial documents were signed in the late eighties and gathered dust until the early nineties. It was only in 1994 that the two countries had coordinated the technical aspects of the agreement and signed supplements to it.
''I expected a powerful surge forward in giving shape to this project. But the Russian finance ministry wasted two years mulling over the modes of credits repayment'', Mikhailov said.
The progress of the project was halted because it could not be decided as to which part of the Russian credits would be paid back in hard currency and which would be returned in the form of Indian commodities. It is only now that the problems appear to have been solved, he added.
Mikhailov now heads a nuclear physics institute at the Russian Kurchatov Centre, that produced the first atom and hydrogen bombs after the end of the Second World War. He was earlier asked by Russian President Boris Yelstin to return to the institute to carry on nuclear research work and not waste time on administrative work.
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