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Defense chief says Russia does not export nuclear submarines

RIA Novosti

29/09/2008 16:55 NEW DELHI, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has no plans to export nuclear submarines, the country's defense minister said on Monday during his visit to India.

Asked to comment on media reports on alleged plans to export nuclear submarines, in particular to India, Anatoly Serdyukov said: "The press discusses lots of things. We do not export nuclear submarines."

The Times of India earlier quoted an anonymous Indian defense source as saying that under a secret deal signed between Russia and India in January 2004, a 12,000-ton Akula-II class nuclear-powered attack submarine has been built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard in Russia.

According to the newspaper, the submarine will be leased to India for 10 years and will be commissioned with the Indian navy as INS Chakra as early as in 2009.

Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest among Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

According to various reports, India is currently building three domestically designed nuclear submarines under a top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) program, but needs to give its navy first-hand experience in nuclear submarine operations, deployment and maintenance prior to the deployment of domestic submarines.

"Our sailors... have been undergoing training in Russia to operate the INS Chakra for the last two-three years. Once we get it, it will be the ideal platform to train future crews for the ATVs," the Indian source said.

The nuclear submarine leased by Russia will not be equipped with long-range cruise missiles due to international restrictions on missile technology proliferation, but India may later opt to fit it with domestically designed long-range nuclear-capable missiles.

At present, India operates 16 conventional diesel submarines and is waiting for six French-Spanish Scorpene class diesel attack submarines, to be delivered between 2012 and 2017, but plans to deploy at least three nuclear submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles by 2015.

The first of the three domestic nuclear submarines is expected to begin sea trials by mid-2009.

India previously leased a Charlie-I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.

Russia recently handed over to India the INS Sindhuvijay diesel-electric submarine after an extensive overhaul at a shipyard in northern Russia.

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