India in long-term uranium contract with Uzbekistan
Gandhinagar: The government Friday entered into a long term contract with Uzbekistan to supply uranium ore concentrates to fuel the nuclear reactors.
The contract was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who are here for the Vibrant Gujarat summit that began Friday. The two leaders also held a bilateral meeting.
The agreement was signed between the department of atomic energy and Novoi Minerals & Metallurgical Company of Uzbekistan, the external affairs ministry said in a statement without offering more details.
Meanwhile, the Exim Bank entered into an agreement with Uzbekistan to offer a $200-million credit line to finance housing and social infrastructure projects in the former Soviet republic, it said, adding this was announced by Modi during the official visit of Mirziyoyev last October.
Mirziyoyev said he was keen on attracting Indian capital in areas like IT, education, pharma, healthcare, agri business and tourism.
According to the World Nuclear Association, an international organisation that represents the global nuclear industry, the landlocked Central Asian country is the seventh largest exporter of uranium in the world.
New Delhi has been working on securing a stockpile of nuclear fuel for its strategic uranium reserve to sustain the country's nuclear reactors for the next five years so that the reactors stop functioning for want of fuel as had happened after the Pokhran II nuclear tests.
The US and other nations had imposed economic and technology sanctions on New Delhi following both the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.
Attempts are also being made to procure uranium from Australia. A nuclear cooperation pact between the two nations was signed in 2014 and came into force in 2015.
After the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement, New Delhi's quest to have a uranium reserve got traction as importing fuel became much easier.
Apart from domestic production, India currently imports uranium from Kazakhstan and Canada. This is primarily used to fuel its indigenously built pressurised heavy water reactors. Some uranium is also produced from Russia. Apart from that, it has agreements in place to import uranium from Namibia and Mongolia.