Indian nuclear reactors to get uranium from Canada

The two countries target bilateral trade worth $ 15 billion by 2015

India has concluded negotiations for a bilateral agreement with Canada for importing uranium fuel for its nuclear power plants, even though it may take several months for these agreement to come into effect.

The two countries are set to formalise an “appropriate arrangement” on nuclear issues. The inaugural meeting of the joint committee created to take the nuclear cooperation forward is also on the horizon. However, dates for the joint committee meeting have not been decided yet.

Civil nuclear collaboration and trade were the two key items on the agenda of visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Tuesday. Harpar also met President Pranab Mukherjee and other Indian leaders.

Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier to India's nuclear power programme, stated the joint statement issued after the summit meeting.

One of the world's largest uranium producer for many years, Canada accounts for about 22 per cent of the global output. Production comes mainly from the McArthur River mine in the northern Saskatchewan province, which is the largest in the world.

Uranium production is expected to increase significantly from 2013 after the new Cigar Lake mine starts operation. With known reserve of 572,000 tonnes of uranium oxide as well as continuing exploration, Canada will have a significant role in meeting future world demand.

When asked whether “appropriate arrangement” would include only agreement on uranium supply or would it also cover import of nuclear reactor, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said “all aspects” would be covered. Canada was one of the first suppliers of nuclear reactors to India in the early 1970s.

India and Canada have also agreed to work closely together to improve cyber security. They will broaden their cooperation on cyberspace policy with the shared goal of an open and secure cyberspace.

The two countries aim to have a bilateral trade of $ 15 billion by 2015 from $ 5.2 billion in 2011. Harper attended several business meetings during his visit to Delhi and Bangalore promoting business opportunities for Indian firms.

Some of the large Indian investments in Canada include a $ 1. 2 billion urea project by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd in the Quebec province. A consortium of companies including ONGC Videsh Ltd is exploring the possibilities of bidding for oil blocks in Canada. The two countries agreed to  have ministerial discussions on oil and gas explorations led by the deputy chairman, Planning Commission, on the Indian side and the minister of natural resources on the Canadian side. A comprehensive economic partnership agreement between the two nations that will further boost trade and economic relations will be concluded by 2013 end.

The two countries signed an agreement on social security and two memorandum of understanding on information and communication technology and defence research.

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