India seeks to build up uranium stockpile

26 September 2017

India is engaging with various countries, including Uzbekistan, to procure uranium as part of its plan to create a strategic uranium reserve to ensure long-term security, PTi reported on 24 September. The plan is to have a stockpile of nuclear fuel for its strategic uranium reserve that can sustain India’s reactors for the next five years. Talks are currently being held with Uzbekistan, a senior government official said. An Uzbek delegation visited India in August to discuss the issue in detail. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier held bilateral talks with Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Astana in June, PTI reported citing a senior Ministry of External Affairs official, on condition of anonymity.

"We have been looking to import uranium from Uzbekistan in the past. Back then, they had refused to transport uranium to an Indian port. But now they have agreed to do so and negotiations are on," the official said

Attempts are also being made to procure uranium from Australia. A nuclear cooperation pact with Australia was signed in 2014 and came into force in 2015. However, a senior government official pointed out that Australian uranium is poor quality. "We have received nearly a kilogram of uranium from Australia, which is being tested by the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad to determine the price of the uranium. We are hopeful that the uranium import may begin next year," the official added.

Apart from domestic production, India currently imports uranium from Kazakhstan and Canada. This is primarily used to fuel indigenously built pressurised heavy water reactors. It procures enriched uranium from Russia for its two Boiling Water Reactors at Tarapur in Maharashtra. As part of its contract, Russia also supplies uranium to fuel the two reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. India also has agreements in place to import uranium from Namibia and Mongolia. 

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