The governments of India and Canada have taken another step towards full implementation of their bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), paving the way for Canadian uranium to reach India.
Joe Oliver, federal minister of natural resources, announced yesterday that officials from the two countries had signed an ‘Appropriate Arrangement’ as part of the nuclear agreement. He said so at the headquarters of Canada’s largest uranium producer, Cameco Corporation, in Saskatoon, a city in the province of Saskatchewan.
The Appropriate Arrangement will allow Canadian companies to export nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful uses to India, in accordance with Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy and under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“This is an important step towards full implementation of the NCA, which will create new opportunities for the Canadian nuclear industry,” said Oliver.
The Arrangement was signed in Delhi on March 14 by the government of India’s secretary in the department of atomic energy, R K Sinha, and in Ottawa a week later by Michael Binder, chairman of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
The schedule for final implementation of the agreement is not clear. Paul Duchesne, spokesman for the department of natural resources, said it would be implemented as soon as it had entered into force. “Entry into force requires an exchange of diplomatic notes between Canada and India, confirming each party has completed all the necessary steps to implement the NCA,” he said. He said this was in progress but Canada could not say when it would be completed. The two countries had announced the conclusion of negotiations for the Appropriate Arrangement during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to India last November. The NCA was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Canada in June 2010.
A statement yesterday from Oliver’s office noted India was the world’s fourth largest energy consumer and was expected to increase its electricity supply three-fold in the next 25 years. Canada’s nuclear generation sector is a $5-billion industry, while uranium mining accounts for a little over $1 bn in export. Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium, after Kazakhstan, accounting for a fifth of global output. Mining is concentrated in Saskatchewan, a prairie province in Canada’s midwestern region. Saskatchewan already accounts for a little over 40 per cent of Canada’s exports to India, in the form of pulses and potash. Nuclear trade is expected to be a key component in reaching the bilateral trade target of $15 bn, requiring a three-fold jump from the current figure.