Modi's Canada visit may clinch uranium deal

Last Updated 29 March 2015, 20:05 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ottawa next month may see a much awaited commercial agreement being signed paving way for Canada to supply uranium to India.

“We look forward to resuming our civil nuclear energy cooperation with Canada, especially for sourcing uranium fuel for our nuclear power plants,” Modi posted on Facebook on Saturday. Sources told Deccan Herald that New Delhi and Ottawa might also announce joint research and development in the field of nuclear energy, focusing on augmenting capacity of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors of India.

The prime minister will visit Canada from April 14 to 16 after touring France and Germany. He will meet his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper in Ottawa and will address business leaders in Toronto. Modi on Saturday noted that Canada was also the first country to have completed the requirements for civil nuclear cooperation with India after New Delhi secured the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008.

India and Canada signed the civil nuclear cooperation agreement in 2010 and followed it up by inking the administrative arrangement in 2012. Though India and United States clinched a nuclear deal in 2008, the protracted negotiations over administrative arrangement concluded only recently.

Cameco Corporation of Canada has since long been engaged in commercial negotiation for supplying uranium from its mines in the North American country to nuclear power plants in India.

Sources said that a breakthrough in the complex negotiation was expected soon and a deal might be clinched after Modi-Harper meeting in Ottawa.  A senior government official said that New Delhi and Ottawa might also announce a joint research and development programme, primarily focusing on augmenting capacity of the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors in India to 750 MW.

Ottawa had snapped its nuke ties with New Delhi after accusing the Indian government of using plutonium produced in reactor provided by Canada and installed in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay for its first nuclear test in Pokhran in 1974.

Canada had supplied the nuclear reactor CIRUS to India in mid-1950s under the Atom for Peace Programme for civilian use of nuclear energy. The “Smiling Buddha”, as the first nuclear test on May 18, 1974, was codenamed, had triggered international uproar and Canada had immediately cut off supply of nuclear materials and technology to India.

Modi on Saturday also referred to France-India nuclear agreement. “France is one of our most important strategic partners, which has stood with us at difficult moments. We remember the understanding and support extended by France in 1998 after the Pokhran Tests,” he posted on Facebook.

“France has been a consistent supporter of India's Membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he added.

(Published 29 March 2015, 20:05 IST)

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