Brushing aside reservations of the United States, Russia on Thursday said its proposed supply of nuclear fuel to India for the Tarapur reactor was not in violation of Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines.
'The supply of nuclear fuel to India for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station is not a violation of NSG guidelines as it is being done under the Safety Exception clause to ensure safe operation of the reactor,' the state-controlled Voice of Russia radio quoted an unnamed official of Rosatom Federal Atomic Energy Agency as saying.
Another state-run media - RIA Novosti said that under the contract, Russia is supplying low-enriched uranium pallets for Tarapur and natural uranium fuel for the atomic power station in Rajasthan.
'Both deliveries would be made under IAEA safeguards,' the news agency said. The US yesterday expressed reservations on Russia's move to supply fuel for Tarapur nuclear reactor, saying any such step should be taken after India fulfils its obligations under the historic Indo-US nuclear deal.
'We recognise that... they (India) have need for fuel. And we think that deals to supply that fuel should move forward on the basis of a joint initiative, on the basis of steps that India will take that it has not yet taken,' US State Department acting spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters in Washington referring to the Indo-US nuclear deal.
But India said Moscow's supply of uranium breached no international rules. "There is no violation of NSG guidelines and Russia has approached the NSG under the Safety Exception clause,' the external affairs ministry said in a statement yesterday.
The Safety Exception Clause allows fuel transfers by members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group if there are grounds to believe that depriving a reactor of fuel could create a nuclear danger.
'India has had to seek urgent and limited supplies of uranium fuel to enable (the Tarapur plant) to continue its operations in safety,' the external affairs ministry said, adding, 'The United States is aware of the urgent need for fuel for Tarapur'.
Russia has agreed to supply the urgently-needed uranium for Tarapur plant and a deal involving 60 tonnes of the fuel is likely to be signed during the two-day India visit of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov beginning on Thursday.