India and Canada Reach an Agreement on Uranium Deal
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall calls Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new deal that will allow sales of uranium to India “very positive” for Saskatchewan.
“The federal government has now announced they’re getting to the conclusion part of the nuclear co-operation agreement with India,” Wall told reporters Tuesday at the Legislative Building. “We don’t always agree with the federal government on everything that they do, but we very much appreciate that on these large issues — for example, market access to Canadian uranium, which is our uranium — they have been very aggressive.”
Harper announced Tuesday during his trade mission to India the conclusion of negotiations on the administrative arrangements for the Canada-India Nuclear Co-operation Agreement.
Wall said reaching nuclear co-operation agreements with India and China has been a top priority of trade missions to the area, both for the provincial and federal governments, noting ensuring civilian applications for uranium use has been paramount.
“Saskatchewan uranium was not allowed into two of the most robust nuclear programs or nuclear markets in the world, which are China and India,” Wall said, noting an open India market could mean $650 million annually in demand for Saskatchewan uranium and the China agreement could mean billions into the future.
“All of the uranium production in Canada is in the province,” Wall said, noting 44 per cent of mining producer Cameco Corp.’s workforce is aboriginal. “If we can see an expansion in the industry, and I think we will, this is good for the overall economy, but we’re going to see more First Nations engaged.”
The agreement between Canada and India was announced by Harper in New Delhi shortly after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“Our government is committed to promoting greater trade and investment with India,” Harper said in a written statement.
He added the nuclear deal will help Canadian companies “play a greater role in meeting India’s growing energy needs.”
Canada and India have been haggling over the administrative arrangements on the nuclear deal, which was announced with great fanfare by Harper and Singh in Toronto in 2010.
That nuclear co-operation agreement came after decades of distrust sparked by India’s use of Canadian nuclear technology for a weapons test in 1974.
When the nuclear accord was reached two years ago, it appeared to easily clear the way for Canada to sell its uranium and build reactors in India. But the issue became mired in negotiations over the details. Canada insisted it wants India to provide information in the future to demonstrate that Canadian nuclear materials are used for peaceful purposes — not for further nuclear weapons proliferation.
India balked at this request, saying it wants to work through the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Under the administrative deal reached by negotiators, both countries will establish a “joint committee” to share information.
It was initially unclear Tuesday what led Canadian and Indian negotiators to end the impasse in their negotiations — and whether Canada or India gave up more to conclude the talks.
In a joint statement, Harper and Singh said their countries are “leaders” in nuclear technology and services and will develop “mutually beneficial partnerships in this regard.”
They also “recognized that Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier to India’s nuclear power programme.”
They said the deal will now come into effect at an “early” date in the future, although there are no specifics on timing.