New Delhi: A day ahead of his talks here, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Sunday said Russia respected India's nuclear liability law, but indicated that the price of Kudankulam reactors III and IV may have to be renegotiated. Rogozin also said that Russia will present to India the agreed schedule on the delivery of the refurbished aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, whose delivery to the Indian Navy was expected this year but has now been deferred till the end of 2013. Rogozin and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Monday will co-chair the next meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) on Oct 15. The talks will set the agenda for the annual summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Nov 1.
The talks between Krishna and Rogozin will explore finding a mutually acceptable deal on the units III and IV of the KNPP, which have been bogged down in sharply differing perceptions over India's civil nuclear liability law. "These are contracts with big money, one has to respect the rules. If there are issues that require additional assurance, then it will require additional money," Rogozin told reporters here Sunday, indicating that Russia could insist on escalation of the price of the units III and IV of Kudankulam if India stuck to its demand for sticking to the country's civil nuclear liability regime. "Tomorrow, we will discuss this problem (issues related to nuclear liability)," he said.
Russia has contended that the civil nuclear liability law should not apply to these units as the agreement on them predates the 2010 civil liability law, and could be seen as "grandfathered" by the original 1988 agreement. But India has made it clear that its national law is paramount and cannot be subverted. Moreover, New Delhi feels that making an exception for Russia will amount to diluting its civil nuclear law which will encourage the US and France to seek similar exemptions.
In July, the nuclear officials of India and Russia in Moscow had signed a protocol for Russian units III and IV. Russia has agreed to extend export credit amounting to $3.4 billion. Stressing that the Kudankulam plant in India will be "the most reliable in the world," Rogozin tactfully chose not to comment on speculation about the role of some foreign NGOs in fomenting protests over safety issues of the power plant in Tamil Nadu that has been built with Russia's help. "In principle, these protests are objective. People may have their opinion and they have to be respected," he said.