"We are too close to Japanese disaster," he told accompanying journalists while returning from his two-nation tour of China and Kazakhstan when asked why he continued to pursue nuclear cooperation with various countries despite the experience in Fukushima in Japan where the crisis was triggered by radiation leak after tsunami hit nuclear plants.
Dr Singh noted that in the aftermath of the disaster, "there is certain amount of nervousness over extensive use of nuclear power." He, however, said that he was "convinced that all said and done, when cool-headed discussions take place on the future of energy, what are the problems with coal (reserves), what are the problems of other hydrocarbons in terms of impact on climate change, there would be reconsideration of the role of nuclear energy as one of the essential options which all countries must keep to deal with problems like climate change and energy security."
The prime minister's comments came in the backdrop of India signing a civil nuclear agreement with Kazakhstan earlier on Saturday during his visit there. The broad-based agreement provides for supply of uranium, construction of reactors, research and development and joint mining of uranium.
Asked about Kazakhstan's keenness that India should build small nuclear reactors there, Dr Singh said, "It takes two to strike a deal. There have been some discussions but no concrete decision has been taken."
At the same time, he said India has capabilities to produce small reactors using natural uranium.