COLOMBO: Close on the heels of Sri Lanka signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with India, a Pakistan-Sri Lanka pact on peaceful use of atomic energy is to be signed during the visit of Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Islamabad.
Earlier in the week, the Lankan cabinet had announced that a Pak-Lanka MoU on the “development of 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 definitely 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 application 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 New Delhi was reluctant to respond till the island nation 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 Koondankulam nuclear power project. However, we did not receive a positive response until 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 from 2010 to 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 US,” he added.
However, in the later part of 2012, India submitted a comprehensive nuclear energy plan for Lanka.
But Sri Lankan nationals felt that the proposal was tilted in favour of India, the official said.