Indigenous N-reactors: Russia’s gift to India

Russia will construct six new reactors for India by 2017. Vladimir Putin’s visit has seen the two countries chalk out and agree on a roadmap for construction of reactors with Russian design in India.

The deal is a step towards India’s decision to have indigenously built nuclear reactors, sources in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said.

“The roadmap calls for progressive indigenisation of suppliers for reactors to be constructed in collaboration with Russia beyond the level already envisaged in units 3 and 4 at Kudankolam,” said DAE spokesperson S.K. Malhotra.

The deal means that more and more components will be manufactured in India, and will be used as part of Russian reactors. This comes as a significant development after sanctions on India were lifted for civil nuclear deals in mid-2008.

It was after this that India signed its first civil nuclear cooperation with France-based nuclear firm Areva to built reactors in Maharashtra.

Of the six reactors that are to be built within the 12th Five-Year Plan, four will be constructed at Kudankolam in Tamil Nadu and two at Haripur in West Bengal.

Putin’s visit to India has also seen plans being envisaged to build more reactors with Russian cooperation in the 13th Five-Year Plan.

Russia to build 12 N-reactors in India, sell 29-MiGs

Giving a fillip to their ties, India and Russia on Friday signed 19 pacts, including three in civil nuclear field and one for purchase of 29 MiG-29 fighters besides inking the revised agreement on Gorshkov aircraft carrier, a deal that was stuck for three years over price.

Under the agreements in civil nuclear field, Russia will build 12 atomic plants — six in Kudankulam and six in Haripur in West Bengal.

The agreements were signed during the day-long visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who held comprehensive talks with his counterpart Manmohan Singh with an aim of exploring opportunities for further boosting the relations.

They also discussed regional issues, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the context of terrorism and agreed to intensify their consultations on Afghanistan the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism in the region.

The pacts in civil nuclear field are Agreement on Cooperation in the use of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes and Agreement on Road Map for the Serial Construction of Russian Designed Nuclear Power Plants.

An MoU was also signed on Nuclear Power between NPCIL and Atomstroy Export for construction of Third and Fourth atomic plant in Kudankulum in Tamil Nadu.

The revised agreement on Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal was also signed during the visit. The deal had initially been signed in 2004 at the cost of USD 1.5 billion, along with 16 MiG-29Ks. However, the Russians later demanded USD 2.9 billion, citing escalation of costs.

After protracted negotiations, the two sides settled at USD 2.34 billion.

No military ties with Pak because of India: Putin

Highlighting the special status accorded by Russia to its ties with India, Putin said his country did not have any military cooperation with Pakistan because it understands India’s concerns.

On a visit here, Putin said terror groups operating out of Pakistan and Afghanistan were a threat to the entire world and action against these would be in the “best interest” of Pakistan itself.

“Unlike many other countries, Russia does not have any military cooperation with Pakistan because we bear in mind the concerns of our Indian friends,” he said.

He made the remarks after his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues including Pakistan, Afghanistan and terrorism emanating from these countries.

The two leaders exchanged views on Afghanistan where Taliban are showing signs of resurgence.

Earlier in the day, Putin said at a programme that Russia understood well the concerns of India regarding banned terror outfits operating against it from Pakistan.

“Parts of Afghanistan’s soil continues to be used by terror groups. We understand the concerns of India regarding the activities of banned outfits in Pakistan,” he said.

Noting that Pakistan has taken action against those outfits in the last few months, Putin said, “We hope addressing the problem (of terror groups) will be in the best interest of Pakistan. We need to support those efforts.”

Putin said India and Russia were concerned over terror activities and were strategic partners in the fight against terror.

Russia says its stealth jet ready for use in 2015


A new Russian T-50 fighter lands at an airfield of the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturing plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

Russia’s fifth-generation stealth jet fighter will be ready for use in 2015, its designer said on Monday, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pressed the aviation industry to design a new strategic bomber.

Moscow is scrambling to update its ageing fleet of military aircraft. It test-flew a long-awaited stealth fighter at the end of January, presenting it as Moscow’s first all-new warplane since the 1991 Soviet collapse and a challenge to the technological supremacy of its Cold War foe the United States.

Asked to compare his brainchild to the US F-22 Raptor, built more than a decade ago, the Russian jet’s chief designer Alexander Davydenko told reporters: “The basic features are the same but we tried to do it better.”

He said Sukhoi, which produced the T-50 prototype of the jet, had simulated duels with the US stealth fighter.

“I think we will have a competitive price. As for the efficiency-and-cost ratio, we will be much better,” Davydenko said.

The first MiG-29 and Su-27 prototypes of the previous fourth generation took to the air in 1977. Analysts say several nations, including Libya and Vietnam, had expressed interest in the fifth-generation fighter.

Putin, who toured Sukhoi’s design bureau in Moscow on Monday, said Russia still had much work to do before it starts producing the plane.

“Before this machine can go into serial production, there are over 2,000 test flights left. There is still a lot of work ahead,” he told a government meeting on the aviation industry.

Tiny tsunami reaches Japan; Pacific damage small

Local residents in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture (state), northern Japan, look at a wave washing stairs built on the shore at a fishing port on Sunday. The initial waves which struck Japan did not cause any damage

The tsunami from an earthquake in Chile hit Japan’s main islands on Sunday, but the initial waves washed ashore without causing any damage after sparing most of the Pacific islands that were in its path.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the biggest wave in the initial tsunami following the magnitude 8.8 quake off Chile was recorded in northern Japan. It was 35 inches (90 centimetres) high. Another, measuring about 12 inches (30 centimetres), was observed in Hokkaido, also to the north. There were no reports of damage.

As it crossed the Pacific, the tsunami has dealt populated areas — including the U.S. state of Hawaii — just a glancing blow.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre already lifted its warning for every country but Russia and Japan, though some countries in Asia and the Pacific — including the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand — were keeping their own watches in place as a precaution.

The tsunami initially raised fears that the Pacific could fall victim to the type of killer waves that killed 230,000 people in the Indian Ocean in 2004 the morning after Christmas. During that disaster, there was little to no warning and much confusion about the impending waves.

Officials said the opposite occurred after the Chile quake: They overstated their predictions for the size of the waves and the threat.

“We expected the waves to be bigger in Hawaii, maybe about 50 percent bigger than they actually were,” said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the warning centre. “We’ll be looking at that.”

But Japan, fearing the tsunami could gain force as it moved closer, put all of its eastern coastline on tsunami alert Sunday and ordered hundreds of thousands of residents in low-lying areas to seek higher ground as waves generated by the Chilean earthquake raced across the Pacific at hundreds of miles (kilometers) per hour.

Japan is particularly sensitive to the tsunami threat.

In July 1993 a tsunami triggered by a major earthquake off Japan’s northern coast killed more than 200 people on the small island of Okushiri. A stronger quake near Chile in 1960 created a tsunami that killed about 140 people in Japan.

Towns along northern coasts issued evacuation orders to 400,000 residents, Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, said. NHK switched to emergency mode, broadcasting a map with the areas in most danger and repeatedly urging caution.

As the wave continued its expansion across the ocean, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said its tsunami alert applied to its entire Pacific coast, with the waves expected to be biggest in the north. It said a tsunami of up to 9.8 feet (3 meters) could hit the northern prefectures of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi, though the first waves were much smaller.

People packed their families into cars, but there were no reports of panic or traffic jams. Fishermen secured their boats, and police patrolled beaches, using sirens and loudspeakers to warn people to leave the area.

Elsewhere, however, the tsunami passed quietly.

By the time the tsunami hit Hawaii — a full 16 hours after the quake — officials had already spent the morning ringing emergency sirens, blaring warnings from airplanes and ordering residents to higher ground.

The islands were back to paradise by the afternoon, but residents endured a severe disruption and scare earlier in the day: Picturesque beaches were desolate, million-dollar homes were evacuated, shops in Waikiki were shut down, and residents lined up at supermarkets to stock up on food and at gas stations.

Waves hit California, but barely registered amid stormy weather. A surfing contest outside San Diego went on as planned.

In Tonga, where up to 50,000 people fled inland hours ahead of the tsunami, the National Disaster Office had reports of a wave up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) high hitting a small northern island, deputy director Mali’u Takai said. There were no initial indications of damage.

Nine people died in Tonga last September when the Samoa tsunami slammed the small northern island of Niuatoputapu, wiping out half of the main settlement.

In Samoa, where 183 people died in the tsunami five months ago, thousands remained Sunday morning in the hills above the coasts on the main island of Upolu, but police said there were no reports of waves or sea surges hitting the South Pacific nation.

Villagers living close to the Philippines’ eastern coast were advised to move to higher ground, said Renato Solidum, the chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. He said a wave of about 3.2 feet (1 meter) high could hit early in the afternoon.

“We’re not expecting any huge tsunami so we’re just urging everybody to take precautions,” Solidum told The Associated Press.

On New Zealand’s Chatham Islands earlier Sunday, officials reported a wave measured at 6.6 feet (2 meters).

Oceanographer Ken Gledhill said it was typical tsunami behaviour when the sea water dropped a meter off North Island’s east coast at Gisborne then surged back.

Several hundred people in the North Island coastal cities of Gisborne and Napier were evacuated from their homes and from camp grounds, while residents in low-lying areas on South Island’s Banks Peninsula were alerted to be ready to evacuate.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management downgraded the national warning to an advisory Sunday afternoon and in the Cook Islands police issued an all-clear midmorning Sunday.

In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology reported a tsunami measuring 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) off Norfolk Island, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) northeast of Sydney. There were no immediate reports of damage.

India, Russia strategic ties step up

New delhi, February 17: In a series of high level interactions, Russia and India on Tuesday decided to firm up two major pacts — on nuclear energy and a fifth generation fighter plane — in time for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit in March. They also resolved to step up trade ties and develop closer cooperation in the energy sector.

This emerged during meetings between visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister and India pointman Sergei Sobyanin with Union Ministers S.M. Krishna, Anand Sharma, Murli Deora, A.K. Antony besides National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T.K.K. Nair on Monday and Tuesday.

Mr. Sobyanin also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and gave an overview of Russia’s perspective of bilateral relations with India. The discussions with Dr. Singh and members of his Cabinet were aimed at preparing for Mr. Putin’s forthcoming mid-March official visit , said a Russian Embassy statement.

Both countries expect to reach an agreement on Indian participation in the development and manufacturing of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) with stealth characteristics, which made its maiden test flight last month. The two sides will first agree on the technical design which will be followed by discussions on monetary and Indian expertise contribution to by India in the project.

Analysts expect the FGFA to give the Indian Air Force an edge in the skies along with the Sukhoi-30 MKI and the soon-to-be-acquired 126 fighters of medium class.

Leading the defence talks, first deputy head of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, Alexander Fomin, also touched on the other five Indo-Russian projects in this sector including more supplies of Sukhoi-30 MKI, T-90 tanks and Mig-29 fighters.

Heading the talks in the civil nuclear arena, chief of the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, Sergei Kirienko, discussed the prospects of further cooperation.

Both sides have agreed to set up more nuclear reactors in Kudankulam and discussions are continuing on sourcing more reactors for the existing site and the new site in West Bengal, offered by the Indian government.

The Indo-Russia umbrella nuclear agreement that covers much more ground as compared to pacts signed with other countries, was initialled during Dr. Singh’s visit to Moscow in December last year and the interlocutors are confident of signing it during Mr. Putin’s visit.

Koran Sayings Begin Appearing on Baby’s Body, Russians Puzzled


Miracle or hoax? Russians puzzled as phrases from the Koran start appearing ‘spontaneously’ on baby’s skin


A baby is sparking a wave of speculation in Russia after phrases from the Koran allegedly began appearing on his skin.

Sayings from the Muslim holy book are said to appear on nine-month-old Ali Yakubov’s back, arms, legs and stomach – before apparently fading away and being replaced with new sayings.

Russian medics claimed they are puzzled over the cause of the marks on a baby’s skin, which started when the word Allah apparently appeared on his chin within weeks of his birth.


Human Koran: Sacred sayings from the Muslim holy book apparently appear spontaneously on nine-month-old Ali Yakubov’s body

Medics deny that the marks are from someone writing on the child’s skin.

His mother, Madina, said that she and her husband were not religious until the writings started appearing on his skin.

Initially they did not show anyone the unexplained writings, she said, until revealing them to their doctor and the imam in their village of Red October which is in a strongly Muslim region.

Now the boy has become a focus of Muslim homage in his troubled home province of Dagestan, close to war-ravaged Chechnya in the south of Russia.

Local MP Akhmedpasha Amiralaev said: ‘This boy is a pure sign of God. Allah sent him to Dagestan in order to stop revolts and tension in our republic.’

The boy’s mother claimed: ‘Normally those signs appear twice a week – on Mondays and on the nights between Thursdays and Fridays.


One of the markings on the child’s skin, which medics and his family say are genuine apparitions

‘Ali always feels bad when it is happening. He cries and his temperature goes up. It’s impossible to hold him when it’s happening, his body is actively moving, so we put him into his cradle. It’s so hard to watch him suffering.’

The phrases regularly replace each other on the baby’s skin, she said.

Local imam Abdulla has told locals that the Koran forecasts that before the end of the world, there may be people with its sayings on their bodies.

He said that one sign read: ‘Don’t hide these signs from the people.’

The story has attracted considerable attention from the Russian media and online.