NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet today "took note" of the administrative arrangements for implementing the India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement that came into force last month.
A statement issued by the government earlier in the day had said the Union Cabinet "has given its approval" to the agreement but a fresh one in the evening said it "took note of the administrative arrangements for implementing the India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement that came into force on November 13, 2015." The civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Australia came into force on November 13 along with the administrative arrangement for implementing the accord.
"The fuel supply arrangements with Australia will bolster energy security by supporting the expansion of nuclear power in India," the statement said. Signed last year, the deal follows similar agreements with the US and France. It is a step toward India achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme despite not ratifying the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
India, which has nuclear energy contributing just 3 per cent of its electricity generation, will be the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the NPT. India and Australia began talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after the latter lifted a long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.
New Delhi faced western sanctions after nuclear test in 1998 but the restrictions eroded after a deal with the US in 2008 that recognised its growing economic weight as well as efficacy of safeguards against diversion of civilian nuclear fuel for military purposes. India has less than two dozen small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or two per cent of its total installed power generation capacity. It is plans to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 reactors at an estimated cost of USD 85 billion.
It currently has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia and Kazakhstan. Australia has about 40 per cent of world's uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually. India and Australia had commenced negotiations for the sale of uranium in early 2012.