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Response of Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs to questions on news report regarding fuel supply to Tarapur nuclear plant by Russia

New Delhi
March 14, 2006 

Question: There are some wire reports that Russia has agreed to supply nuclear fuel for Tarapur? What is your take on that? 

Well, the report is correct to the extent that to India’s request, Russia has agreed to supply a limited amount of uranium fuel for the safeguarded units 1 and 2 of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station and this supply of fuel will enable the plant to continue to operate in safety and provide much needed electricity to the western power grid of the country. 

Question: Have they taken the approval of NSG in this regard? 

According to our information, they have notified the NSG of their intention to supply fuel to Tarapur under the safety exception clause of the NSG guidelines. The shortage of fuel for Tarapur would have affected its continued operations under reliable and safe conditions. 

Can Russia unilaterally do it, or this will have to be formally cleared by NSG? 

Well, they have notified the NSG of their intention to supply the fuel under a particular clause which is the safety exception clause of the guidelines. The fact that they have notified them and identified the clause, I think answers your question. 

Question: The last time such fuel came, in 2001, it was criticized by the US government…(inaudible)...this is a fallout of the…(inaudible)...it will allow more countries to have dealings outside the NPT ? 

Let me put it like this. You know India has made a request to the United States for supply of fuel for Tarapur, and this is not being possible under the current US laws. The July 18 statement has stated that the US will seek to adjust its laws and seek a change in NSG guidelines to enable full civil nuclear cooperation with India, including, fuel supplies to the safeguarded reactors at Tarapur. The statement also commits the United States, in the meantime to encourage its partners to consider supply of fuel expeditiously to India, and India has had to seek this urgent and limited supply of uranium fuel to enable the Tarapur reactors to function in safe and reliable conditions.