India likely to sign uranium deal with Kazakhstan

December 21st, 2008 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) India is likely to sign a civil nuclear cooperation pact with Kazakhstan next month, to make it the fourth country to sign such an agreement with New Delhi, official sources said.The deal is likely to take place when Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations here, a gesture that highlights the close ties between India and Kazakhstan.

India and Kazakhstan are also likely to sign a slew of agreements, including one under which New Delhi will be supplied uranium, during the visit, the sources said.

“The agreement is being finalised. Details are being sorted out,” a source said.

A Kazakh diplomat said the uranium deal was on top of the agenda. The nuclear establishments of both countries are in talks to finalise it.

Kazakhstan will be the fourth country to sign a civil nuclear cooperation with India after the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group ended three decades of nuclear apartheid against New Delhi Sep 6.

India has signed such agreements with the US, France and Russia in the last three months.

The nuclear deal will not just be confined to uranium supply, the sources said. It could also include joint exploration of nuclear fuel and setting up of atomic plants.

Kazakhstan has the world’s second largest uranium reserves and is the third largest producer of nuclear fuel.

“India and Kazakhstan have strong relations but currently the ties are not adequate,” former foreign secretary M.K. Rasgotra told IANS.

“Given its massive energy needs, India requires huge uranium supply for its nuclear plants. Kazakhstan is the best supply source,” Rasgotra said, adding the uranium deal will be a watershed.

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