Ottawa, Jan 23: The Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has signed a memorandum of understanding on next-generation reactors for India. A co-operation deal with the long-time nuclear renegade would be processed by the Canadian Govt.
It's a critical turning point for Canada, which angrily stopped nuclear co-operation with India in 1974 after the govt used plutonium from a Canadian reactor to build an atomic bomb. International Trade Minister Stockwell Day said on Thursday, Jan 22 from Mumbai, where he was wrapping up a four-day trade mission with some of the top CEOs of Canada's nuclear industry.
At the urging of the United States, the international community agreed last September, 2008 to lift the three-decade ban on nuclear trade with India - even though India still refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"The signals we got very clearly from the government here is that there is room for Canada, there's room for Canada's industry and they want Canada involved," Day said from Mumbai. Indian officials are very interested in buying Canadian components, uranium and hazardous waste treatment systems, said the minister.
A formal government-to-government agreement that permits international nuclear inspections must be finalized before any commercial deals are sealed. There has been a stampede of business to India since the 45-country Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the international ban September 7, 2008.
France's Areva just signed a deal to supply the country with enriched uranium. Britain had a government delegation trolling for business this week, meeting the same Indian officials as Day. Russia, the United States and Kazakhstan - the world's third largest uranium producer behind Canada and Australia - are all eager to do business.
The sale of the next-generation reactor are considered critical to the future of the Crown corporation, and Ontario's provincial government has kept AECL on tenterhooks as it mulls over whether it will stick with the Canadian-owned Crown for its next round of reactor construction.