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Politics
India, Australia ink civil nuclear agreement
06-09-2014

NEW DELHI: India and Australia on Friday inked a significant civil nuclear agreement which will allow Canberra to supply uranium to the energy-starved country even as the two countries discussed ways to enhance cooperation in key areas of security and trade.

The nuclear pact was signed after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott during which the two leaders discussed crucial bilateral, regional and international issues including the situation in Iraq and Ukraine.

India and Australia, which has about a third of the world’s recoverable uranium resources and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of it a year, launched talks on uranium sales in 2012 after Canberra lifted a long-time ban on exporting the valuable yellowcake to Delhi to meet its ambitious nuclear energy programme.

Aimed at promoting cooperation in the field peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the agreement recognizes India's commitment to and use of nuclear energy with a view to achieving sustainable development and strengthening energy security.

“Australia can play the role of a long-term reliable supplies of uranium to India. It provides for supply of uranium, production of radio isotopes, nuclear safety and other areas of cooperation,” as per the pact details.

Today’s pact is significant given that Indian nuclear plants generate around 4680 MW of electricity, of which the 2840 MW was from indigenous uranium while 1840 MW was from imported fuel.

The two Prime Ministers directed the negotiators to conclude the Administrative Arrangements pertaining to the civil nuclear pact at an early date. According to officials, it may take upto two years for India to receive the first consignment of uranium from Australia.

The civil nuclear deal is among the four pacts signed - Cooperation in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as also in Water Resources Management and sports.

Noting that Australia has received commitments from India that uranium supplied by it would not be used in Indian nuclear weapons or be used to quarantine Indian domestic supplies of uranium for nuclear weapons, Abbott has said “India has an absolutely impeccable non-proliferation record and India has been a model international citizen.”

During the meeting, the two leaders also discussed ways to deepen the strategic and the economic partnerships. Abbott, who is on a two-day visit, landed in Mumbai early yesterday where he held extensive meetings with business leaders and select Indian CEOs.

Noting that India and Australia were bound by “strongly convergent” trade and strategic interests, the visiting dignitary has said “we do need to invest more time and effort into the trade and investment relationship with India.

“If we do put the same amount of time and effort into this one that we’ve put into some of our other relationships, there’s no reason why the economic relationship with India in the years to come cannot resemble the economic relationship that we've already got with the major countries of North Asia.”