New Delhi, Sep.12 (ANI): After signing civil nuclear cooperation pacts with the United States, Russia, France and Kazakhstan, India is likely to ink another bilateral atomic energy cooperation agreement with Mongolia which boasts of having nearly six percent of the world's uranium reserves.
According to sources, the pact will be sealed during Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's four-day state visit to India beginning on September 13. Apart from the proposed civil nuclear agreement, the two countries are also likely to sign bilateral pacts on health and statistics. India may also sanction a stabilization loan to Mongolia.
This is President Elbegdorj's first official visit abroad after assuming office in June 2009, indicating the importance that Mongolia attaches to its relations with India.
Mongolia is not a member of 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), but is affiliated to the Vienna-headquartered International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and last year supported India's bid for a "clean waiver" on conducting civil nuclear trade internationally notwithstanding the fact that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Nuclear experts in India point out that Mongolia's huge uranium reserves could boost and energize the country's starving civil nuclear fuel cycle.
Mongolia's proposed decision to supply uranium to India assumes greater significance in the wake of Australia's reluctance to do so.
Australia, which has the world's largest uranium reserves, has time and again signaled that it cannot supply uranium to India until the latter signs the NPT. The Group of Eight (G-8) countries - The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan - at their last meeting in Italy, moved and approved a resolution to controversially prevent non-signatories of the NPT from accessing enrichment and reprocessing technology.
Experts believe the supply of uranium is more crucial for India than access to enrichment and reprocessing technology. India started reprocessing in 1964 and is enriching its fuel since the 1970's and has a full fuel cycle.
Mongolia recently signed an inter-governmental agreement with Russia to establish a joint venture to develop, produce and process uranium. If the atomic energy agreement with India is inked during the Mongolian President's visit, India will become the second country to have uranium-linked cooperation with the Eurasian nation, the other being China.
President Elbegdorj will commence his official visit to India from Monday. On the first day, he will meet External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna; have delegation level talks with the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh; meet Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani and call on his Indian counterpart Pratibha Devisingh Patil. On Tuesday, he will visit Agra, Gaya and Mumbai. On Wednesday, he is expected to meet and interact with captains of Indian industry in Mumbai and is likely to pitch Mongolia as an attractive investment destination. He will leave for Mongolian capital Ulan Batter the same evening. By Naveen Kapoor(ANI)