NEW DELHI—India's long nuclear winter has come to end. On Wednesday, the government’s nuclear power utility inked a deal to buy at least two power reactors from France—India’s first major nuclear purchase from the West since it exploded an atom bomb in 1974 and came under international sanctions.
India intends to quadruple its electricity generation by 2032, from its present capacity of 145 gigawatts. Toward that end, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited agreed to purchase from the French nuclear giant AREVA at least two 1650 MW European Pressurized Reactors, each priced at more than €3.5 billion, with an option for four more later. The reactors will be built at Jaitapur, south of Mumbai, on the coast of the Arabian Sea. “This signifies the first commercial steps to end India's nuclear isolation and to emerge as a responsible nuclear state with advanced nuclear technology,” says computer scientist Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.
Sanctions forbidding nuclear commerce with India were formally lifted last September, when the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the International Atomic Energy Agency amended their rules despite the fact that India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty. AREVA is the first beneficiary of the highly touted Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement. And it won’t be the last, assures Anil Kakodkar, chair of India's Atomic Energy Commission. It’s ”just the beginning,” he says.