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African Union pact impeding Namibia supply of uranium to India: MEA

Namibia has not been able to break the 'Pelindaba Treaty'

Ministry Of External Affairs


African Union pact impeding Namibia supply of uranium to India: MEA

A senior official of the (MEA) said on Wednesday that while Namibia, the world's fourth largest producer of uranium, is keen to supply the product to India, an African Union agreement is impeding its implementation in a way.

Briefing media ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee's three-nation visit to Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Namibia between June 12 and June 18, Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said, "We have an agreement on cooperation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was signed in 2009, when President Muamba had visited here (India). And, this sets the framework for a long term supply of uranium."

"Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium, but they have an African Union agreement which sort of impedes its implementation, and Namibia has not been able to break that 'Pelindaba Treaty," he added.

The African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba (named after South Africa's main Nuclear Research Centre, run by The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation and was the location where South Africa's atomic bombs of the 1970s were developed, constructed and subsequently stored), establishes a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa. The treaty was signed in 1996 and came into effect with the 28th ratification on July 15, 2009.

On whether the issue of uranium supply had been raised specifically with the Government of Namibia, Mr. Sinha said, "We have raised this issue with Namibia and we would again try and press upon them that India is a good market for uranium."

He further stated, "And, the fact is that because of this MOU, which we had thought will kick in quickly, has not happened that we have had been looking and signing agreements with other countries like Kazakistan, Australia and few others. So, eventually, if we meet our requirements from non-Namibian sources, it will be a loss for the Namibian industry."

"So, that would be the line we would argue and I am sure that our President will speak to the President (of Namibia). It's a win- win situation for them (Namibia), as it gets them revenues and utilizes their minerals," Mr. Sinha added.

He said that since 2009, India's own status in the nuclear world due to various developments has changed.

"That should also perhaps encourage them (Namibia) to have a relook at their earlier decision," he added.

The Pelindaba Treaty prohibits the research, development, manufacture, stockpiling, acquisition, testing, possession, control or stationing of nuclear explosive devices in the territory of parties to the treaty and the dumping of radioactive wastes in the African zone by treaty parties.

The treaty also prohibits any attack against nuclear installations in the zone by treaty parties and requires them to maintain the highest standards of physical protection of nuclear material, facilities and equipment, which are to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. The treaty requires all parties to apply full-scope Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to all their peaceful nuclear activities.

A mechanism to verify compliance, including the establishment of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy, has been established by the treaty. Its office is in South Africa.

The treaty affirms the right of each party to decide for itself whether to allow visits by foreign ships and aircraft to its ports and airfields, explicitly upholds the freedom of navigation on the high seas and does not affect rights to passage through territorial waters guaranteed by law.

The African nuclear-weapon-free zone means the territory of the continent of Africa, island states that are members of OAU, and all islands considered by the Organization of African Unity in its resolutions to be part of Africa.

The "territory" means the land territory, internal waters, territorial seas and archipelagic waters and the airspace above them as well as the seabed and subsoil beneath.

The African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (ANWFZ) covers the entire African continent as well as the following islands: Agalega Islands, Bassas da India, Cabo Verde, Canary Islands, Cargados Carajos, Chagos Archipelago - Diego Garcia, Comoros, Europa Island, Juan de Nova, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Prince Edward & Marion Islands, Sao Tome and Príncipe, Reunion, Rodrigues Island, Seychelles, Tromelin Island, and Zanzibar and Pemba Islands.

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First Published: Wed, June 08 2016. 19:20 IST