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Canada rewards its nuclear thief

Canada’s largest Uranium producer, Cameco Corp, shall provide 3,220 metric tonnes of uranium concentrate for Indian nuclear power reactors over five years, beginning this year. Deal is worth $ 350 million;  it comes at the end of two years of negotiations that followed the 2013 civil nuclear deal between the two countries.

Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of uranium, it  supplied the first Indian reactor CIRUS in 1954. India payed back by using Canadian technology and stealing fissile material out of this reactor to carry out a nuclear test in 1974. To prevent recurrence of such thefts,  Nuclear Suppliers Group was formed soon after Indian test. Canada had banned all exports of nuclear materials to India in 1974.

India has 21 operational nuclear reactors and six under construction, which use uranium as fuel. The nuclear component of India’s energy production is  6,000 MW.  India plans to have 45,000 MW of nuclear electricity by 2032.

At a press conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described uranium as “not just a mineral but an article of faith” (for India).

India does not release data on local uranium production, but it is estimated to be around 350-400 MT. Total Indian reserves are estimated at 181,600 MT, mainly in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Meghalaya. Selling of Canadian uranium to India is  raising fears.  New nuclear deal  will have reverberations around the world and is likely to raise concerns with those tracking nuclear proliferation. Canada’s  Green Party has expressed serious concern over the deal with India.

Canadian Green Party’s Indigenous Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans said: “Selling uranium to India could cause us to violate the NPT if India uses it to manufacture weapons, and make us part of the global insecurity problem.” India’s un-safeguarded  8 nuclear power reactors churn out enough fissile material for producing at least 100 warheads annually.

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