India on Monday signed a path-breaking civil nuclear agreement with Russia that will guarantee uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies for its atomic reactors and transfer of nuclear technology.
The agreements were signed after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin in Moscow, during which the two leaders spoke of the need for 'pinpointed' strategies to deal with terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The three defence agreements, aimed at moving away from buyer-seller relationship, provides for joint development of weapons systems and platforms over a ten-year period up to 2020 and vital afte- sales support for Russian equipment supplied to India to end ad hocism in this critical area.
The ITAR-TASS news agency reported that the two countries have finalised the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal, an irritant in the bilateral relations.
Dr Singh described the inter-governmental framework agreement for civil nuclear cooperation as a 'major step' forward and said India was 'very satisfied' at the development of bilateral atomic cooperation.
The deal is seen as a better one for India than the historic 123 atomic agreement with the United States that does not guarantee fuel supplies without any break.
A joint declaration setting out the priorities for bilateral cooperation in diverse fields was also issued at the end of the annual Indo-Rusian summit talks.
In sharp contrast to the frigid and cold weather in Moscow, which was blanketed by snow, it was all warmth in the gilded and ornate hall inside the Kremlin. Dr Singh and Medvedev spoke warmly of Indo-Russian cooperation with the prime minister saying, "Our relationship stands on its own footing and is not influenced by our relations with any other country."
"Today, we have signed an agreement that broadens the reach of our cooperation beyond supplies of nuclear reactors to areas of research and development and a whole range of areas in nuclear energy," Dr Singh said while addressing a joint press conference with Medvedev.
The prime minister said the agreement will deepen and strengthen the already existing nuclear cooperation between the two countries, under which four additional nuclear reactors would be set up by Russia in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. A site for four more reactors at Haripur has been identified in West Bengal as part of a chain of nuclear parks in the country.
A third site -- probably in Maharashtra -- has been identified for Russia to set up some more reactors. Dr Singh said the two countries also decided to set a trade target of $20 billion by 2015 from the existing level of around $7 billion.
Medvedev made it clear that nothing can stop his country from pursuing a vigorous atomic cooperation with India.
sked about the provision of granting Enrichment and Reprocessing Right to India against the backdrop of a G-8 resolution in July this year, under which Russia and seven other countries committed that they will refrain from transferring such technology, he said, "Nothing changes for us."
The new civil nuclear pact provides for uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies from Russia even in the event of termination of bilateral ties in this field for any reason. The Indo-Russian pact on atomic cooperation is a significant document and goes much further than the 123 agreement between India and the US, officials said.
The pact also has provisions for transfer of enrichment and nuclear technology, which is denied in the 123 agreement with the US. Medvedev said the nuclear agreement opens the way for greater cooperation beyond Kudankulam.
"The nuclear cooperation between the two countries has a very good future. We are satisfied with the cooperation and I hope today's agreement will pave the way for greater cooperation in this field in the years to come," Dr Singh said.
Dr Singh and Medvedev also spoke of the excellent potential for supply of affordable Indian pharmaceutical products in Russia.