Posts tagged ‘nuclear’

July 1, 2011

Russia to supply nuclear submarine to India: Report

Russia will deliver a nuclear submarine to India by the end of the year, Russia’s navy chief was quoted as saying on Friday by state news agency RIA. PHOTO: FILE

MOSCOW: Russia will deliver a nuclear submarine to India by the end of the year, Russia’s navy chief was quoted as saying on Friday by state news agency RIA.

India sees Russia as a strategic counterweight to China but New Delhi has been upset by repeated delays to major weapons orders from Moscow, including the Admiral Gorshkov heavy aircraft carrier.

The date for delivering the Nerpa submarine to India, Russia’s close economic and political partner since Soviet days, has repeatedly been put back.

“We shall definitely supply this vessel to the customer by the end of this year,” RIA quoted navy commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky as saying.

Vysotsky said a fully trained Indian navy crew was ready to receive the submarine, which some Russian media reported last year had already been handed over to India.

The Nerpa, an attack submarine codenamed “Akula” – or “Shark”, by NATO, is usually armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles. It can go down to depths of 600 metres (2000 ft) for about 100 days. It can carry 73 people.

Construction of the Nerpa began in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed, but funding was frozen in the chaotic 1990s and the submarine was only launched and started sea trials in 2008, according to Russian media.

Twenty people died on the Nerpa after inhaling the toxic gas used as a fire suppressant when its fire extinguishing system switched on unexpectedly at sea trials in November 2008.

The accident was the deadliest to hit Russia’s navy since August 2000, when the Kursk nuclear submarine sank beneath the Barents Sea, killing all 118 sailors on board.

India agreed to buy the Gorshkov aircraft carrier and have it upgraded in 2004. But Moscow has repeatedly asked for more money and the latest price tag reported for the ship is $2.3 billion. It has still not been delivered to India.

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June 30, 2011

West queries China over Pakistan nuclear ties

Beijing’s nuclear ties with Islamabad have caused unease in Washington, Delhi and other capitals. PHOTO: FILE

VIENNA: Western nations pressed China at closed-door nuclear talks to provide more information and help address concerns about its plans to expand an atomic energy plant in Pakistan, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.

But China showed no sign of reconsidering its position on building two more reactors at the Chashma nuclear power complex in Pakistan’s Punjab region, said the sources who attended a June 23-24 meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Beijing’s nuclear ties with Islamabad have caused unease in Washington, Delhi and other capitals. They are worried about Pakistan’s history of spreading nuclear arms technology and the integrity of international non-proliferation rules.

Washington and other governments have said China should seek approval for the planned reactors from the NSG, a 46-nation, consensus-based cartel that seeks to ensure nuclear exports do not get used for military purposes.

Beijing is likely to shun such calls, arguing that the construction of two additional units at Chashma would be part of a bilateral deal sealed before it joined the NSG in 2004. China also supplied the facility’s first two reactors.

The United States and European countries made statements at the meeting in the Dutch town of Noordwijk that “both expressed concern and asked the Chinese to provide more information”, one diplomat who attended the talks said.

“The Chinese came back and said that as far as they were concerned Chashma 3 and 4 came under the agreement that was grandfathered when they joined in 2004 and that is as far as they feel they need to go,” the diplomat added.

The NSG’s annual plenary session addressed a range of nuclear-related issues, and agreed to tighten guidelines for the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technology that can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

But a statement about the talks did not mention Chashma.

“It is a very sensitive topic,” said one European official.

Possible compromise?

Another diplomat who declined to be named said: “A number of countries expressed concern and requested more information. There was a brief response from China.”

Close relations between China and Pakistan reflect a long-standing shared wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

Chinese nuclear companies have not issued detailed information about when they will start building the new units, but contracts have been signed and financing is being secured.

To receive nuclear exports, nations that are not one of the five officially recognised atomic weapons states must usually place all their nuclear activities under the safeguards of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, NSG rules say.

When the United States sealed a nuclear supply deal with India in 2008 that China and other countries found questionable because Delhi, like Islamabad, is outside the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Washington won a waiver from that rule after contentious negotiations.

Pakistan wants a similar civilian nuclear agreement with the United States to help meet its growing energy needs.

But Washington is reluctant, largely because a Pakistani nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted in 2004 to transferring nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

The first diplomat suggested that a possible way forward on Chashma was if China said that the two new reactors would be the last it claims do not need approval from the NSG.

“What in reality is needed is something that says: this is it, this is the end. And if Chashma 3 and 4 are the end, that is possibly a price worth paying,” the diplomat said.

Nuclear analyst Mark Hibbs said he believed China would press ahead with its Pakistan reactor plans and that there were divisions among other NSG states on how to respond to this.

“A kind of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell policy’ would be very damaging for the credibility of the NSG,” said Hibbs, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.