Union Cabinet gives nod for India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal that came into force on November 13, 2015.

The deal along with the administrative arrangement for implementing the accord will bolster India’s energy security by supporting the expansion of nuclear power in the country.

Background

  • India and Australia had started talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after Australia had lifted the long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.
  • The cooperation agreement was signed between two countries in September 2014 to sell uranium as a nuclear fuel for peaceful power generation.
  • India-Australia Nuclear Cooperation deal follows similar agreements signed by India with the US and France after western sanctions were lifted in 2008.

Currently, India has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia, Kazakhstan and Canada (since December 2015). Australia has about 40 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves and annually exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of nuclear fuel. It is third largest uranium producing country after Kazakhstan and Canada.

Nuclear Energy in India

Presently, nuclear energy just contributes 3 per cent of electricity generation in India. The energy starved country has less than two dozen small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW of its total power capacity. India is seeking to diversify its electricity generation and is planning to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 new reactors.

Comment

With this, India became India the first country to buy Uranium from Australia without being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). It also marks India’s step toward achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme despite not ratifying the NPT.

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