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Bharath asked: In what way does importing light water reactors (LWR) from US and France mesh with India's three-stage nuclear programme aimed at utilising its thorium reserves?

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  • G. Balachandran replies: The third stage of India's nuclear power programme envisages the use of thorium, which India has in abundance, and plutonium, which is a man-made metal not available in nature.

    Plutonium is obtained from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power reactors using either natural uranium or low enriched uranium (LEU). Light Water Reactors (LWRs) use LEU.

    The LWRs to be imported from USA and France, in addition to the ones imported from Russia, will provide spent fuel to be reprocessed to get plutonium for use in the third stage of the Indian nuclear power programme.

    However, with sufficient natural uranium availability, India can also reprocess spent fuel from the indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) to get plutonium.

    Imported reactors will enable India to obtain much greater quantities of plutonium than it would if it were to only use PHWRs to reprocess spent fuel.

    Posted on June 27, 2018