Canada-India civil nuke deal imminent?
India media outlets report Harper, Singh to end 30+ year nuclear trade freeze with a finalized agreement following G20 meeting this week.
According to reports from Bloomberg, The Business Standard, The Economic Times and other media outlets in India, Stephen Harper and India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are set to finalize the details of a new civil nuclear trade agreement following the G20 meeting in Toronto this week. If signed, the deal would end Canada’s a 30+ year nuclear trade ban with India and open the way for sales of Canadian uranium, nuclear equipment and related technology.
The Hindustan Times quotes Vivek Katju, the secretary in India’s external affairs ministry, as saying during a briefing on the G20 visit, “The agreement will cover a large ambit of peaceful nuclear applications.” According to reports, the deal would allow Canadian firms to establish nuclear plants in India, supply uranium and cooperate in nuclear research and waste management.
When contacted for comment, Prime Minister Harper’s office said it had nothing to announce. However, Harper and Singh already agreed to the basic framework of a plan during Harper’s trip to India last November. Both countries have also expressed intentions to boost bilateral trade from approximately CAD $5 billion to CAD $15 billion over the next five years.
If the reports prove true, the agreement would be a boon for Canada’s nuclear industry. Although Canada is the world’s largest producer of uranium, struggling nuclear tech firms–such as Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.– could finally find a market for its technology.
Canada would become the latest country to hammer out a nuclear agreement with India since the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowed the country to resume nuclear trade in September 2008. In recent years, India has established similar deals with the US, France and Russia.
If both governments ultimately approve, the deal would mark the end more than three decades of strained relations between the two countries over nuclear trade. Canada broke off nuclear trade with India following allegations that India used plutonium, produced in a Canadian reactor, for its first nuclear test in 1974. Further strain followed India’s Pokharan-II nuclear blast test in 1998.