Ending four decades of moratorium on nuclear trade between the two countries, India and Canada reached an agreement paving the way for the Canadian firms to export uranium and nuclear reactors to New Delhi.
The Appropriate Agreement, concluded during the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will end the penalty imposed by Canada in 1976 in the aftermath of the 1974 nuclear explosion by India under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
India is said to have used plutonium from Canada-donated reactor to make the bomb.
“Being able to resolve these issues and move forward is, we believe, a really important economic opportunity for an important Canadian industry, part of the energy industry, that should pay dividends in terms of jobs and growth for Canadians down the road,” said Harper. The Canadian Prime Minister who is on a visit to India, from November 4- to 9, had visited cities like Chandigarh and Agra.
With Appropriate Agreement in place, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and India’s Department of Atomic Energy would formally sign both the original deal and the implementation agreement and then both countries would take “necessary steps to bring the nuclear cooperation agreement into force in a timely manner”. Harper predicted that following the agreement, Indian doors would be open for Canadian companies and they would play a greater role in helping India meet its growing energy needs.
“It is expected to generate millions of dollars in new business contacts between our countries and to create high-quality new jobs here at home,” he said in a statement. However, no timeline has been given for the implementation of the agreement. But it is considered as a milestone for the two countries as they had not agreed on the final details despite signing the nuclear cooperation pact two years ago.
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Harper pressed for the early implementation of the 2012 Bilateral Agreement of Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
“The two Prime Ministers recognised that both countries were leaders in nuclear technology and services, and that they could develop mutually-beneficial partnerships in this regard. They also recognised that Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier to India’s nuclear power programme,” the two countries said in the joint statement.
India has projected to double the capacity of its nuclear reactors to 63,000 MW in the next two decades. The key hurdle in the agreement has been Canada’s insistence to include safeguards to ensure that its material is not used for making nuclear bombs in the future. Right now, it is not clear what promise India has given to placate the Canadian diplomats on the issue, as India has been insisting on reporting only to International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) on the issue and not to any Canadian agencies.