Canadian company Cameco, which has signed an agreement for the supply of uranium to India, will start delivery in the second half of this year with the end-use being strictly monitored.
The company is excited over the pact, which it says marks the ‘start of a new relationship’ between the two countries.
Cameco's President and CEO Tim S Gitzel told PTI that the company will start delivery of uranium by the second half of this year as per a schedule. Cameco and the Department of Atomic Energy signed an agreement here two days back during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Under the pact, the Canadian company will supply uranium over five years at a cost of $350 million Canadian dollars. "We signed a binding contract under which Cameco will supply 700 million pounds of uranium to India over the next five years to generate electricity from its nuclear plants in India. This is the first time for us and it is exciting," Gitzel said.
Canada is only the third country which will be supplying uranium to India. The other two countries are Russia and Kazakhstan.
Canada banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after it was alleged that New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
The two countries put this behind them with the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement that took effect in 2013. When asked about apprehensions in Canada for long with regard to India over the nuclear issue, Gitzel said it was ‘history’.
He said, "India and Canada have been working very closely over the last five years for an agreement in the civil nuclear sector which clearly dictates the terms of the relationship as to who can do what, if we supply nuclear material uranium, what it can be used for, what is the monitoring mechanism, what oversight."
"So, it is a new day that has allowed us to sell uranium to the Department of Atomic Energy of India," Gitzel said.
Asked whether the end-use would be monitored, Gitzel emphasised that the material has to be ‘used for peaceful, civilian purposes’ and it can be tracked. "That is a very important clause."
He said both Indian and Canadian governments will work together to monitor the supplies. Asked whether IAEA will also monitor, he said the international watchdog ‘always has a role but this specific agreement is between India and Canada and that is what we are working on’.
On what could be the next steps in the relationship between Cameco and DAE, Gitzel said, "I am sure it will go very well to build on the relationship."
He referred to the comments by Modi that uranium for him is not just a metal but ‘Canada's trust’ and said ‘trust is the basis for building a relationship’.
Modi has said the agreement marks heralding of a ‘new era’ in the bilateral ties.
Image: Prime Minister Modi with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper of Canada in Ottawa. Photograph: MEA/Flickr