Anil Kakodkar, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, has launched a public-private initiative to source a further 100,000 tonnes of uranium reserves over the next four years. The move comes as the country generates considerable controversy in sourcing replacement fuel for its Tarapur reactors from Russia.
India has reached civilian nuclear deals with the United States, France and Russia in order to develop nuclear technologies and source uranium, but as a non-signatory of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), India should not qualify for approval from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The recent US-India deal will see India divide its nuclear complex into military and civilian sectors and open the civilian side to international oversight, including inspections. In return, India-specific exemptions are proposed that will permit nuclear commerce with civilian nuclear entities and facilities.
If approved, the new rule would permit a NSG member to export nuclear goods to India if that particular government was 'satisfied' that New Delhi was abiding by its non-proliferation commitments. However, some argue that unless India agrees to the NPT then it should fall outside the NSG remit.
Nonetheless, the move comes as the first consignment of 20-25 tonnes of uranium arrived from Russia this month. The material will be delivered to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for use in Tarapur 1 & 2.
“With Russian supply of 60 metric tonnes of uranium, the plants will have fuel for the next five years,” executive director, corporate planning at NPCIL, Sudhinder Thakur said.
Kakodkar added: “We need the international cooperation in civilian nuclear programme for meeting our short-term energy needs.”
Currently, the country’s uranium reserves are estimated at 78,000 tonnes.
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