Some details of India's nuclear program

Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India (AECI), gave an interview to an IBNLive correspondent in which he discussed some aspects of India's nuclear program.

Srikumar Banerjee confirmed that the capacity of its enrichment facility at the Rare Materials Plant (RMP) in Rattehalli is sufficient to produce fuel for India's nuclear submarines. In 2010 India was seen as expanding the capacity of the Rattehalli plant by adding new halls to the existing facility. Srikumar Banerjee also said that the new enrichment facility in Chitradurga, which will be producing uranium with enrichment of about 1.1 percent for India's pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR), will not be placed under safeguards and therefore could be used to produce military material. However, it appears that the Chitradurga plant will be used primarily for civilian applications. If necessary, it could also produce enriched uranium for light-water reactors.

Discussing India's reprocessing plans, Srikumar Banerjee said that India is planning to deploy an "integrated nuclear recycle plant" with the capacity of "close to 500 tonne/year of heavy metal" at the Tarapur site (there are two reprocessing facilities in Tarapur today, with the second one opened in January 2011). There are plans to build two more facilities of this kind "during the next plan period" (probably five years). Srikumar Banerjee also referred to a "a fairly large [reprocessing] facility" "that is nearing completion in Kalpakkam."

Finally, Srikumar Banerjee suggested that operation of the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) will be further delayed (after a series of delays in the past). While expressing confidence that the construction will be completed in mid-2012, he admitted that commissioning the reactor may take some time after that.