COLOMBO: Close on the heels of the signing of an Indo-Lankan nuclear cooperation agreement on February 16, a Pakistan-Sri Lanka agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy is to be signed during the visit of Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Islamabad which is expected to take place in March.
Earlier in the week, the Lankan cabinet had announced that a Pak-Lanka MoU on the “development nuclear applications” was “ready” to be signed.
The cabinet statement had given details of the Indo-Lanka nuclear deal signed in New Delhi on February 16, and said that a similar agreement had been signed with ROSATOM, a Russian government-owned company.
Asked to comment on a news report that President Sirisena is to be in Islamabad on a state visit on March 31, a Lankan official said that the visit will take place, and that the agreements to be signed during the visit have been finalized, but dates of the visit are still to be finalized.
Lanka’s nuclear agreements typically cover only peaceful uses of nuclear energy in health, agriculture, and water management, besides nuclear safety. There will be cooperation in the manufacture and use of radio isotopes for use in these fields. Power generation and weapons manufacture do not figure.
According to Ceylon Today, Lanka had been asking for India’s cooperation in developing the use of nuclear energy for some years, but India was reluctant to respond till Lanka approached Pakistan and Russia.
"In 2010, we presented a civil nuclear proposal to the Indian authorities along with suggestions of nuclear safety with regard to the Kundankulam Nuclear Power Plant. However, we did not receive a positive response up until the time we reached out to Russia and Pakistan," an official said.
“India was reluctant to enter into any kind of nuclear agreement with the Sri Lankan Government during the period 2010-2012, as there had been an unspoken agreement to refrain from entering into any nuclear dealings with Sri Lanka or Iran as India was aligning with the USA,” he added.
However, in the latter part of 2012, India submitted a comprehensive nuclear energy plan for Lanka. But Lankans felt that it was tilted in favor of India, the official said.