Going Nuclear: Russia and India agree to build 12 power reactors by 2035

Russia and India are ramping up energy ties and will construct at least 12 new nuclear reactors by 2035. Two will be completed by 2016 at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Russian state-owned power company Rosatom confirmed Thursday.

"This morning a general framework agreement was signed on the construction and equipment delivery for the third and fourth blocks of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant at the present site. Cement foundations [for the new blocks] will be poured in the beginning of 2016," Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko said Thursday, as quoted by Sputnik news agency.

In April, Russia and India agreed to begin phase two of the Kudankulam plant, which includes adding Block 3 and Block 4. It is the only nuclear power plant which meets all the 'post-Fukushima' safety requirements.

“Today we will sign a strategic document that foresees the construction of no less than 12 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years, or in other words this would be no less than two nuclear power plants,” Kiriyenko said.

Talking at a press briefing in India President Putin said the two countries had signed ‘a very important’ agreement to construct the total of more than 20 nuclear reactors.

“We have reached a new level of cooperation. This isn’t just about trade and services, but this is the creation of the new industrial branch,” he went on to say.

Nuclear cooperation between Russia and India has been on the rise, and has been a main topic of discussion during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to New Delhi December 10 -11. Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also discuss at $3 billion helicopter deal, oil exploration and supply, infrastructure projects, and diamond sales by Alrosa, the Russian state-owned diamond company, to India.

READ MORE: Putin: Nuclear projects core of cooperation between Russia and India

Russia and India first agreed to build the Kudankulam nuclear plant in November 1988, and the first 1,000-megawatt reactor ‘Block 1’ was completed on October 22, 2013. The second power block has also been completed, but needs to be tweaked before it can be connected to the grid. The plant is located in the southern Indian province of Tamil Nadu.

Other deals included a 10-year contract between Rosneft and Essar, India’s big international conglomerate, for the delivery 10 million tons of oil annually. The oil will be transported via ship from the Far East as well as the Baltic and Black Seas.

GLONASS, Russia’s satellite navigation system, will create a $100 million joint venture in India to help produce navigation systems and quick response receivers.

Russia will also assist in the creation of an Indian mobile phone operator.

Relations with India have become a priority for the Kremlin, as US-led sanctions have hindered diplomatic and economic ties between Russia and the West.

Bilateral trade between the two BRICS nations in 2013 was $10 billion, a small amount compared to the $90 billion Russia exchanges with China or the €326 billion it turns over with the European Union every year.